Though not out to erase the memories of a stellar year of 2012, Ben Barba went about staking his claims for a second Dally M Medal with both brilliant, and consistent, showings throughout the 2016 season.
Capping the year with a Premiership – and scoring a try in the Grand Final to aid the Sharks cause – Barba ensured his second year in the Shire would be one he’d never forget.
While all will remember the flashy brilliance and the dazzling skill that Barba showed week in, week out, few will know of the toil and time spent in laying the foundations to return to his best.
So often asked of the ways he went about finding his best once more, the fullback credited the gruelling pre-season – and the work done months before a ball was kicked – as the key to his success in 2016.
Finishing second only to Valentine Holmes in the Club’s list of leading try scorers, Barba headed the squad in try and line break assists, such was his dominance in attack this season.
Not only did Barba finish the year with a Premiership ring to his name, so too did he collect the honour of the ‘Players’ Player’ and the Club’s ‘Members’ Player’ at the Sharks annual awards night.
Barba finished as the highest ranking Sharks player in this year's Dally M Medal count.
Many questioned if Barba could find his feet in the Sharks number 1 jersey this season, and the 27-year-old quickly put paid to the sceptics with a blistering turn of foot to score versus the Dragons in Round 2.
Barba’s acceleration off the spot to leave defenders clutching at air quickly showed he was in for another impressive season.
Missing five players on Origin duties in the side’s Round 18 trip to Penrith, Barba put his hand up to be the Sharks hero with a sensational individual try against the Panthers.
The try the second of a pair he collected that afternoon, claiming Man of the Match honours en route to guiding the Sharks to a convincing 26-10 win.
“I've never felt so much love from a group of fans. They've always had my back. They've always seen what I wanted to do for this Club.” – Barba upon collecting the 2016 ‘Members’ Player of the Year award’
Year in Review: Ben Barba*
Tries: 16 (2nd)
Try Assists: 21 (1st)
Line Breaks: 20 (2nd)
Line Break Assists: 20 (1st)
Tackle Busts: 103 (1st)
Offloads: 27 (3rd)
*Statistic: (Club Ranking). Statistics via www.foxsports.com.au/nrl