A cut above the rest ... Ben Barba. Photo: Getty Images
Ben Barba is truly extraordinary. He is now one of the greatest assets rugby league can boast.
I know it's a team sport and we must stick rigidly to our teachings that winning really comes as a result of the combined effort of men working and fighting together, side by side, in the common cause. However, sometimes you just can't deny that the brilliance of an individual makes all the difference in the world.
Barba is that individual.
When marketing experts and advertising gurus sit down to explore new ways of promoting the game of rugby league to the masses, I guarantee you there is nothing they will do, nothing they can buy, no gimmick they can create, that will ever come close to the excitement, exhilaration and energy, a player like Barba brings to this sport.
I don't know how many times during his junior football days, or even in the early days of his professional career, Barba would've heard people say, ''He's talented, but he's a bit small to handle the big time.''
Well, nowadays Barba is the big time. He is a giant in our game. He is the new face of our code. He is an inspiration to every youngster out there who was ever told you are not big enough to play football.
You go out into the schools and ask kids which team they follow. Of those that respond ''the Bulldogs'',
ask them ''Why?''
I bet you nine out of 10 will say ''Ben Barba''. Kids love to watch the little blokes who make big blokes look stupid. They are drawn to them like kindred spirits. Benny is their new hero.
Yesterday he scored two tries. I don't know too many players in the game today that could've scored either. He also saved a try at the death to thwart any chance of a late Broncos comeback.
The football only has to look like its going somewhere near Barba and everyone in the ground gets out of their seats in excited anticipation.
His speed threatens opponents and makes them nervous as they try to predict his next movement. His reputation now goes well before him in the minds of opposition defenders forcing them into panicked decisions in their defensive reads.
And if defenders decide to race up quickly and cut down the thinking time the playmakers have to get Barba the ball, they simply kick in behind the line for Barba to chase in a flash. A blinding flash such as this pretty much turned the game on its head yesterday and set the Bulldogs for yet another stirring victory.
Barba's second try to seal the win? Well with all due respect to his hard-working teammates, it was all Ben; and it was absolutely breathtaking. The stutter, the step, the mesmerising deception that makes defenders stand still. The scintillating acceleration to surge through the gap and into the back field was over in the blink of an eye. The almost arrogant way he then veered around the opposing fullback and avoided even being touched by the converging cover defenders, put the final nail in the Broncos' coffin.
He is a superstar.
OK; enough plaudits for one man. Because there were some tireless soldiers in this Bulldogs team who were huge contributors to a tremendous victory.
The home side was blown away early and fell behind 14-0 to the rampaging Broncos. The Bulldogs at this stage were out of sorts and lacking rhythm to the their game. But there was no sign of panic. They persevered. They toiled. They grafted their way back into the contest.
It was no mean feat to give a team like the Broncos a 14-point start and a beating. It was a victory built on courage and confidence.
But it must be nice for the Bulldogs forwards to know that if they can keep the scores close and physical battle even, they have a secret weapon at the back who can produce a reward for their collective efforts.
There I go again. I'm trying to give everyone else on the team some praise, but soon find myself referring back to the wizardry of Ben Barba.
Oh well, I'm sure the Bulldogs' players don't mind.
Well done Bulldogs. Brilliant stuff Ben Barba.