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Barba wins mind battle to defuse bomb threat

Ben Barba ... has silenced his critics and improved his display under the high ball this season.

Ben Barba ... has silenced his critics and improved his display under the high ball this season. Photo: Supplied

BULLDOGS fullback Ben Barba believes he has ''shut up a few people'' with his improved display under the high ball this season, admitting he was hurt by criticism but is driven by it to prove the knockers wrong.

The Dally M player of the year heads into Sunday's grand final against Melbourne widely regarded as one of the likely gamebreakers. Before his standout season he was considered by many to be highly susceptible under the bombing raids of rival kickers and too short to play the position. He believes he has turned that reputation around for minor premiers Canterbury-Bankstown this year and is pleased to no longer be regularly discussed as a liability under high balls.

''I'd like to think I shut up a few people about that,'' Barba said. ''It goes to show it's got nothing to do with just being able to catch or not, it's all about the confidence that you get from it in the mind. I'd like to think I made a few people [quiet].

''It's just about putting in the hard yards before and after training when you get the chance. It's come down to hard work and belief.''

The electrifying 23-year-old from Mackay has been assisted at the back by the Bulldogs' dominance of their rivals, limiting their opportunities to launch attacking bombs at the fullback through wave after wave of attack and suffocating defence.

Barba, a key figure of that attack, feels he has improved in defusing high balls significantly, though, and conceded he had not taken well criticism of his bomb-catching ability. Asked at yesterday's fan day at Belmore Sports Ground whether it affected him, he said: ''It does as a rugby [league] player … when people start talking about it you can't help but think about it.

''But I like to think I worked hard on it during the off-season and trying to get it all out of my mind, knowing it was a new season. I knew I had to work hard on it obviously. I like to think I did that and now it's paying off for me.''

What is also providing the Bulldogs untold benefit is another part of Barba's game that is not generally appreciated. In a season in which he has compiled 22 tries, and 23 try assists, and already collected a couple of top individual honours, it is not surprising that much attention is on his brilliant attacking game.

But the Queenslander says he is more proud of the defensive development he has made. Asked to nominate his favourite moment of the year to date he did not choose that magical 110-metre try he set up for Josh Morris against the Storm in Mackay. Instead, it was a tackle, specifically his match-winning coaxing of South Sydney's Dylan Farrell into touch with the game on the line in round 13.

''[The highlight is] some of the tackles I made,'' he said. ''Against South Sydney that day when we were 19-18 and somehow I pulled off that tackle where I put Farrell's foot into touch. It's something I tried to pride myself on this year and I know it really lifts my teammates around me. That was pretty big that night for them and I know they really lifted from that.''

Like the majority of Des Hasler's side Barba is lining up for his first NRL grand final. Like several others he had never played in a first-grade finals match before this month but he has quickly looked right at home.

''I like to think I've gone all right,'' he said. ''I haven't tried to overplay my hand or do more than what I've done in the season. I guess I've got to continue to do what's worked for me for 26 rounds of rugby league and two finals games. I'll take this game as if I'm playing round one this season - but with a bit more importance.''

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NRL Season 2014

Round 1
Thu, 06 MarTimes shown AEDT
SOU 28 vs SYD 8 Report Stats
Fri, 07 MarTimes shown AEDT
BUL 12 vs BRI 18 Stats
Sat, 08 MarTimes shown AEDT
PEN 30 vs NEW 8 Report Stats
MAN 22 vs MEL 23 Report Stats
NQL 28 vs CAN 22 Report Stats
Sun, 09 MarTimes shown AEDT
STG 44 vs WES 24 Report Stats
PAR 36 vs NZW 16 Report Stats
Mon, 10 MarTimes shown AEDT
CRO 12 vs GCT 18 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 2
Fri, 14 MarTimes shown AEDT
MAN 14 vs SOU 12 Report Stats
BRI 16 vs NQL 12 Report Stats
Sat, 15 MarTimes shown AEDT
NZW 12 vs STG 31 Report Stats
MEL 18 vs PEN 17 Report Stats
SYD 56 vs PAR 4 Report Stats
Sun, 16 MarTimes shown AEDT
GCT 12 vs WES 42 Report Stats
NEW 20 vs CAN 26 Report Stats
Mon, 17 MarTimes shown AEDT
BUL 42 vs CRO 4 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 3
Fri, 21 MarTimes shown AEDT
WES 25 vs SOU 16 Report Stats
BRI 26 vs SYD 30 Report Stats
Sat, 22 MarTimes shown AEDT
PEN 18 vs BUL 16 Report Stats
CRO 12 vs STG 14 Report Stats
NQL 16 vs NZW 20 Report Stats
Sun, 23 MarTimes shown AEDT
MAN 22 vs PAR 18 Report Stats
CAN 12 vs GCT 24 Stats
Mon, 24 MarTimes shown AEDT
MEL 28 vs NEW 20 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 4
Fri, 28 MarTimes shown AEDT
SYD vs MAN 8 Report Stats
STG 20 vs BRI 36 Report Stats
Sat, 29 MarTimes shown AEDT
NZW 42 vs WES 18 Report Stats
PAR 32 vs PEN 16 Report Stats
BUL 40 vs MEL 12 Report Stats
Sun, 30 MarTimes shown AEDT
SOU 18 vs CAN 30 Report Stats
NEW 30 vs CRO Report Stats
Mon, 31 MarTimes shown AEDT
GCT 13 vs NQL 12 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 5
Fri, 04 AprTimes shown AEDT
SYD 8 vs BUL 9 Report Stats
BRI 18 vs PAR 25 Report Stats
Sat, 05 AprTimes shown AEDT
CRO 37 vs NZW 6 Report Stats
PEN 12 vs CAN 6 Report Stats
STG 6 vs SOU 26 Report Stats
Sun, 06 AprTimes shown AEST
MEL 26 vs GCT 28 Report Stats
WES 34 vs MAN 18 Report Stats
Mon, 07 AprTimes shown AEST
NQL 28 vs NEW 2 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 6
Fri, 11 AprTimes shown AEST
PEN 2 vs SOU 18 Report Stats
GCT 12 vs BRI 8 Report Stats
Sat, 12 AprTimes shown AEST
CAN 12 vs NEW 26 Report Stats
PAR 14 vs SYD 12 Report Stats
WES 16 vs NQL 4 Report Stats
Sun, 13 AprTimes shown AEST
NZW 20 vs BUL 21 Report Stats
MAN 24 vs CRO 4 Report Stats
Mon, 14 AprTimes shown AEST
MEL 28 vs STG 24 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 7
Fri, 18 AprTimes shown AEST
SOU 14 vs BUL 15 Report Stats
NEW 6 vs BRI 32 Report Stats
MAN 26 vs NQL 21 Report Stats
Sat, 19 AprTimes shown AEST
STG 20 vs NZW 10 Report Stats
CRO 18 vs SYD 24 Report Stats
Sun, 20 AprTimes shown AEST
CAN 24 vs MEL 22 Report Stats
Mon, 21 AprTimes shown AEST
PAR 18 vs WES 21 Report Stats
PEN 14 vs GCT 12 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 8
Fri, 25 AprTimes shown AEST
STG 14 vs SYD 34 Report Stats
MEL 10 vs NZW 16 Report Stats
BRI 26 vs SOU 28 Report Stats
Sat, 26 AprTimes shown AEST
CRO 24 vs PEN 20 Report Stats
NQL 42 vs PAR 14 Report Stats
BUL 16 vs NEW 12 Report Stats
Sun, 27 AprTimes shown AEST
MAN 54 vs CAN 18 Report Report Stats
WES 6 vs GCT 22 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 9
Fri, 09 MayTimes shown AEST
SYD 30 vs WES 6 Report Stats
NQL 27 vs BRI 14 Report Stats
Sat, 10 MayTimes shown AEST
NZW 54 vs CAN 12 Report Stats
GCT 18 vs SOU 40 Report Stats
MEL 22 vs MAN 19 Report Stats
Sun, 11 MayTimes shown AEST
NEW 10 vs PEN 32 Report Stats
STG 6 vs BUL 38 Report Stats
Mon, 12 MayTimes shown AEST
PAR 42 vs CRO 24 Report Stats
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Round 10
Fri, 16 MayTimes shown AEST
SOU 14 vs MEL 27 Report Stats
BRI 22 vs GCT 8 Report Stats
Sat, 17 MayTimes shown AEST
PAR 36 vs STG Report Stats
CRO 20 vs WES 22 Report Stats
NQL 42 vs SYD 10 Report Stats
Sun, 18 MayTimes shown AEST
CAN 20 vs PEN 26 Report Stats
BUL 16 vs NZW 12 Report Stats
Mon, 19 MayTimes shown AEST
MAN 15 vs NEW 14 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 11
Fri, 23 MayTimes shown AEST
BUL 12 vs SYD 32 Report Stats
Sat, 24 MayTimes shown AEST
GCT 16 vs NZW 24 Report Stats
WES 14 vs BRI 16 Report Stats
Sun, 25 MayTimes shown AEST
CAN 42 vs NQL 12 Report Stats
Mon, 26 MayTimes shown AEST
CRO vs SOU 18 Report Stats
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Round 12
Fri, 30 MayTimes shown AEST
PEN 38 vs PAR 12 Report Stats
Sat, 31 MayTimes shown AEST
SYD 26 vs CAN 12 Report Stats
NQL 22 vs MEL Report Stats
Sun, 01 JunTimes shown AEST
NZW 38 vs NEW 18 Report Stats
BRI 36 vs MAN 10 Report Stats
Mon, 02 JunTimes shown AEST
SOU 29 vs STG 10 Report Stats
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Round 13
Fri, 06 JunTimes shown AEST
MAN 32 vs BUL 10 Report Stats
PAR 18 vs NQL 16 Report Stats
Sat, 07 JunTimes shown AEST
GCT 14 vs PEN 36 Report Stats
STG 30 vs CRO Report Stats
SOU 34 vs NZW 18 Report Stats
Sun, 08 JunTimes shown AEST
NEW 20 vs WES 23 Report Stats
MEL 12 vs SYD 32 Report Stats
Mon, 09 JunTimes shown AEST
CAN 4 vs BRI 28 Stats
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Round 14
Fri, 13 JunTimes shown AEST
SOU 32 vs WES 10 Report Stats
Sat, 14 JunTimes shown AEST
PEN 18 vs STG 14 Report Stats
SYD 29 vs NEW 12 Report Stats
Sun, 15 JunTimes shown AEST
BUL 12 vs PAR 22 Report Stats
Mon, 16 JunTimes shown AEST
GCT 20 vs MEL 24 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 15
Fri, 20 JunTimes shown AEST
CAN 14 vs BUL 22 Report Stats
Sat, 21 JunTimes shown AEST
NZW 19 vs BRI 10 Report Stats
CRO vs MAN 26 Report Stats
Sun, 22 JunTimes shown AEST
MEL 46 vs PAR 20 Report Stats
GCT 18 vs STG 19 Report Stats
Mon, 23 JunTimes shown AEST
NEW 36 vs NQL 28 Report Stats
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Round 16
Fri, 27 JunTimes shown AEST
MAN 24 vs SYD 16 Report Stats
BRI 22 vs CRO 24 Report Stats
Sat, 28 JunTimes shown AEST
WES 19 vs CAN 18 Report Report Stats
NQL 20 vs SOU 18 Report Stats
Sun, 29 JunTimes shown AEST
NZW 30 vs PEN 20 Report Stats
PAR 10 vs NEW 16 Report Stats
Mon, 30 JunTimes shown AEST
STG 24 vs MEL 12 Report Stats
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Round 17
Fri, 04 JulTimes shown AEST
BUL 23 vs MAN 16 Report Stats
Sat, 05 JulTimes shown AEST
STG 27 vs NQL 24 Report Stats
SYD 28 vs CRO 30 Report Stats
Sun, 06 JulTimes shown AEST
WES 10 vs PEN 26 Report Stats
Mon, 07 JulTimes shown AEST
SOU 10 vs GCT 14 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 18
Fri, 11 JulTimes shown AEST
MAN 40 vs WES 8 Report Stats
Sat, 12 JulTimes shown AEST
NZW 48 vs PAR Report Stats
MEL 4 vs BUL 6 Report Stats
Sun, 13 JulTimes shown AEST
GCT 20 vs CAN 36 Report Stats
CRO 18 vs NEW 31 Report Stats
Mon, 14 JulTimes shown AEST
PEN 35 vs BRI 34 Report Stats
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Round 19
Fri, 18 JulTimes shown AEST
CRO 18 vs NQL 36 Report Stats
PAR 12 vs SOU 32 Report Stats
Sat, 19 JulTimes shown AEST
SYD 32 vs PEN 12 Report Stats
MEL 28 vs CAN 14 Report Stats
BRI 28 vs NZW 22 Report Stats
Sun, 20 JulTimes shown AEST
NEW 8 vs GCT 22 Report Stats
WES 46 vs BUL 18 Report Stats
Mon, 21 JulTimes shown AEST
STG 12 vs MAN 21 Report Stats
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Round 20
Fri, 25 JulTimes shown AEST
NEW 16 vs SYD 12 Report Stats
BRI 8 vs MEL 30 Stats
Sat, 26 JulTimes shown AEST
PEN 16 vs CRO 18 Report Stats
GCT 18 vs PAR 24 Stats
BUL 12 vs NQL 20 Report Stats
Sun, 27 JulTimes shown AEST
NZW 12 vs MAN 22 Report Stats
WES 12 vs STG 28 Stats
Mon, 28 JulTimes shown AEST
CAN 18 vs SOU 34 Stats
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Round 21
Fri, 01 AugTimes shown AEST
MAN 16 vs BRI 4 Report Stats
BUL 16 vs PEN 22 Stats
Sat, 02 AugTimes shown AEST
CRO 12 vs PAR 32 Report Stats
NQL 28 vs GCT 8 Stats
SYD 30 vs STG 22 Stats
Sun, 03 AugTimes shown AEST
CAN 18 vs NZW 54 Stats
SOU 50 vs NEW 10 Stats
Mon, 04 AugTimes shown AEST
WES 6 vs MEL 28 Stats
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Round 22
Fri, 08 AugTimes shown AEST
SOU 23 vs MAN 4 Report Stats
BRI 41 vs BUL 10 Report Stats
Sat, 09 AugTimes shown AEST
NEW 32 vs MEL 30 Report Stats
NQL 64 vs WES 6 Report Stats
PAR 18 vs CAN 10 Report Stats
Sun, 10 AugTimes shown AEST
NZW 16 vs CRO 12 Report Stats
STG 4 vs PEN 16 Stats
Mon, 11 AugTimes shown AEST
SYD 26 vs GCT 18 Report Stats
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Round 23
Thu, 14 AugTimes shown AEST
SOU 42 vs BRI 16 Report Stats
Fri, 15 AugTimes shown AEST
PAR 16 vs BUL 18 Report Stats
Sat, 16 AugTimes shown AEST
CAN 16 vs STG 34 Report Stats
MEL 48 vs CRO 6 Report Stats
WES 4 vs SYD 48 Report Stats
Sun, 17 AugTimes shown AEST
NEW 28 vs NZW 22 Report Stats
GCT 12 vs MAN 15 Report Stats
Mon, 18 AugTimes shown AEST
PEN 23 vs NQL 22 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 24
Thu, 21 AugTimes shown AEST
BUL 30 vs WES 10 Stats
Fri, 22 AugTimes shown AEST
PAR 22 vs MAN 12 Report Stats
Sat, 23 AugTimes shown AEST
BRI 48 vs NEW 6 Report Stats
SOU 10 vs NQL 22 Report Stats
Sun, 24 AugTimes shown AEST
NZW 12 vs SYD 46 Report Stats
CRO 12 vs CAN 22 Stats
STG 34 vs GCT 6 Stats
Mon, 25 AugTimes shown AEST
PEN 10 vs MEL 24 Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 25
Thu, 28 AugTimes shown AEST
BUL 14 vs SOU 21 Stats
Fri, 29 AugTimes shown AEST
BRI 30 vs STG 22 Stats
Sat, 30 AugTimes shown AEST
NEW 42 vs PAR 12 Stats
CAN 27 vs WES 12 Stats
SYD 24 vs MEL 12 Stats
Sun, 31 AugTimes shown AEST
NZW 42 vs GCT Stats
MAN 26 vs PEN 25 Stats
Mon, 01 SepTimes shown AEST
NQL 20 vs CRO 19 Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 26
Thu, 04 SepTimes shown AEST
SYD 22 vs SOU 18 Stats
Fri, 05 SepTimes shown AEST
MEL 22 vs BRI 12 Stats
Sat, 06 SepTimes shown AEST
WES 26 vs CRO 10 Report Stats
CAN 33 vs PAR 20 Stats
NQL 30 vs MAN 16 Report Stats
Sun, 07 SepTimes shown AEST
NEW 40 vs STG 10 Report Stats
GCT 19 vs BUL 18 Report Stats
PEN 22 vs NZW 6 Stats
View All Fixtures
Finals Week 1
Fri, 12 SepTimes shown AEST
MAN 24 vs SOU 40 Report Stats
Sat, 13 SepTimes shown AEST
SYD 18 vs PEN 19 Report Stats
NQL 32 vs BRI 20 Report Stats
Sun, 14 SepTimes shown AEST
MEL 4 vs BUL 28 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Finals Week 2
Fri, 19 SepTimes shown AEST
SYD 31 vs NQL 30 Report Stats
Sat, 20 SepTimes shown AEST
MAN 17 vs BUL 18 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Preliminary Finals
Fri, 26 SepTimes shown AEST
SOU 32 vs SYD 22 Report Stats
Sat, 27 SepTimes shown AEST
PEN 12 vs BUL 18 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Grand Final
Sun, 05 OctTimes shown AEDT
SOU 30 vs BUL 6 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
NRL Premiership - 2014 Ladder
Overall standings
Team P W L D +/- Pts
Sydney Roosters 24 16 8 0 230 36
Manly 24 16 8 0 103 36
South Sydney 24 15 9 0 224 34
Penrith 24 15 9 0 80 34
North Queensland 24 14 10 0 190 32
Melbourne 24 14 10 0 76 32
Canterbury-Bankstown 24 13 11 0 7 30
Brisbane 24 12 12 0 93 28
View all
 
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