'Older' Barba grateful for support as NRL bid fades
BLISTERING Ipswich Jet Marmin Barba conceded his NRL dream was fading but his appreciation for the Ipswich club was growing as he marks his 100th Intrust Super Cup game on Saturday night.
Having started his career at Tweed Heads, Barba will make his 83rd appearance in Ipswich colours since he debuted for the club in March 2014.
In that time the prolific scorer has amassed 70 tries at a clip of almost one per game. This season, he has crossed the stripe four times and slotted 23 goals for a total of 62 points.
At 28, Barba admits his NRL desires have extinguished but he is elated to reach 100 caps in one of the toughest competitions on earth and still has plenty to offer the Jets.
"Yeah it is massive,” he said of the achievement.
"It is not just 100 at Ipswich but to play my 100th here at Ipswich means a lot. I can't wait to get out there.
"I'm getting a bit old now, so the NRL dream has probably come to an end but my goal is to continue to play good, consistent footy here at the Jets.”
Barba said he would not be the player he is today if he had not linked with co-coaches Ben and Shane Walker and teammates at the Jets.
He said the inclusive culture fostered at the club was second to none and the envy of rivals.
"I can't thank them enough,” he said. "This is a club that I'll always play for. I love everyone that is a part of it. It is awesome. There are no bad vibes.
"Anyone who comes to Ipswich enjoys it so much because everyone gets along really well.”
In recent years, a major part of the Jets' recruitment strategy has been to tap into the rich vein of talent which exists in the state's regional areas.
That's a move which has not only benefited Mackay product Barba on the field but made him feel more at home off the paddock.
"It is good because a lot of the country boys don't get much opportunity playing rugby league living out in the bush,” he said. "So it is a great initiative to go out of their way and recruit those boys from out west.”
Life outside of footy is travelling swimmingly for Barba.
Living in Brisbane with his partner and two daughters, Peityn, 8, and Hunter, 4, he works as a boilermaker's trade assistant for Jets' major sponsor Sun Engineering.
"I'm very lucky,” he said.
"Life is great and I'm enjoying it. Footy is not going to be forever, so you have to make sure you are looking after yourself and have the rest of your life on track.”
Although the Jets have endured a mixed season, Barba trusts his mentors will have some tricks up their sleeve to kick-start the campaign.
"We have just got to start playing our Jets footy like we used to and I think we'll start winning games,” he said.
The Jets have enjoyed success in the northern centre in recent years but were beaten 34-6 at home in round one.