Michael Hagan: Just how good is Ben Barba?
Michael Hagan: Just how good is Ben Barba?

Just how good is Ben Barba?

Comparing different players from different eras can be dangerous but Barba has to be among the finest Canterbury full-backs of the modern era.

The list of great Dogs fullback stretches right back to Les Johns.

From there the club has had the likes of Greg Brentnall and Mick Potter before Rod Silva and Luke Patten arrived at Belmore.

I was lucky to enough to play with Potter in the 1985 grand final, a match where Canterbury beat St George at the SCG.

Barba may not yet stand alongside the legendary Bulldogs full-back - but he is closing in fast.

I do rate him at least the best since Potter, who won a Dally M at Belmore in the mid-1980s.

Barba was simply electrifying again on Sunday against Brisbane.

He scored two super tries, the second coming after he breezed past four Broncos defenders. Not only that, he also saved two tries with some stout defence.

Under Des Hasler this year, Barba's defence has improved out of sight.

It takes a special player to seal the Dally M Medal with still three rounds remaining. I just can't think of another player that can beat him?

Barba has suddenly become the face of the Bulldogs.

He is the player fans want to watch. He is the hero among all young Bulldogs fans.

Will he get picked for Australia in the end of the year Test against New Zealand? Why not.

No doubt Billy Slater will be Australia's full-back but you'd think they would have to find room for Barba somewhere in the 17.

I thought the Bulldogs showed plenty of ticker and patience against Brisbane.

The Broncos came out hungry and were ahead 14-0 after just 13 minutes.

But Canterbury refused to panic and scored 22 unanswered points to secure an 11th successive win. That is an amazing effort in any era.

After last weekend's games, I can't help but think we may be looking at a Manly-Canterbury grand final.

Now wouldn't that be the dream match-up with Hasler going up against his former club in the decider.

Brisbane seem to be slipping away and they have Melbourne and Manly in the next two weeks.

The Storm will be there deep into September though, as will the Cowboys and Souths.

But this year's title might well be decided by a slice of brilliance. A piece of individual magic.

Over to you Ben Barba.


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