Ben Barba can step up as a chief playmaker for Brisbane this NRL season says club veteran Sam Thaiday.
Jordan Kahu picked up another leg injury in the Broncos’ trial loss to North Queensland last weekend, forcing a lengthy stint on the sidelines and leaving coach Anthony Griffin searching for a partner to halfback Ben Hunt in the halves for 2014 – following Corey Norman’s off-season switch to Parramatta.
And Barba, the 2012 Dally M medal winner, has been one name thrust forward after his move to Red Hill for this season.
And Thaiday says Barba can be the man to spark the Broncos attack which spluttered through much of 2013 as the club endured its worst ever season.
“It’s been a big move for him to come from the Bulldogs to the Broncos, a bit controversial in some people’s eyes but at the end of the day family comes first for him if he wanted to move to Brisbane,” Thaiday said.
“I’m sure he will be one of our best players this year.
“He adds another dimension to our game, he gives us a few options. To have a player of his calibre hopefully we can get back to our winning ways.”
The Broncos continue to search for a playmaker capable of carrying them back up the NRL ladder since Darren Lockyer’s retirement at the end of 2011.
Currently entering his 11th year at the Broncos, former captain Thaiday hinted at the NRL Nines in Auckland on Saturday that Barba, who played his junior football in the halves but has starred exclusively at fullback since cracking first grade, could become the halves lynchpin in the Brisbane attack.
“We were looking at Kahu but tragically he hurt himself again,” the Kangaroos back-rower said.
“We are not going to put all our eggs into the one basket, we still have a few options there with Ben being one.
“We still have a few cards up our sleeve.”
Stripped of the captaincy in the pre-season, in favour of Justin Hodges and Corey Parker, Thaiday said he was taking the opportunity to focus on his own game.
“There is no pressure out there,” he said.
“It was a bit of fun out there. It’s a good way to start the season off. It has been a tough few weeks leading up to this.”