Meet the Barba of Red Hill

BRONCOS chief executive Paul White believes the signing of star fullback Ben Barba on a three-year deal will attract more high-profile players to the club over the coming seasons.

When asked whether the big money his club had splashed out on the Bulldogs custodian and last year's Dally M medallist could lead to promising youngsters leaving Brisbane in search of better money, White was defiant.

"No, I think the reverse is true," he said.

"He will be an attraction not only for players, but for members and supporters of our club."

On that basis, this acquisition could put the Broncos in a strong position to also recruit Raiders prodigy Anthony Milford from Canberra, with the star utility also keen to return to family in Queensland.

But White played that down.

"Maybe, maybe not. We didn't make the decision on that basis," he said.

"I just think he (Barba) had a desire to return home - it was for the right reasons.

"He can add so much to the squad. It's up to the others to also attract good players - you can't pin your premiership hopes on the one player."

Barba, stood down from Canterbury due to drinking and gambling issues earlier this year, will have plenty of support in Brisbane.

Fullback Josh Hoffman is his cousin, and he is good mates with veteran centre Justin Hodges.

That was not the only reason for White's confidence the 24-year-old would keep his nose out of trouble off the field.

"I spoke to him myself and he'll know exactly what this club's about," White said.

"That means honest counsel at times and tough conversations, and we'll show him the same care and respect that we show other players."

The Broncos will pay compensation to the Bulldogs, with the southern Sydney club releasing him from his contract after Barba's expression of his desire to return to Queensland to be with his partner and children.

Bulldogs chief executive Raelene Castle said: "There were many complicated elements that needed to be considered around Ben's request for a release and we're pleased to have achieved a result that leaves everyone comfortable with the outcome."

Meanwhile, the Raiders stood down centre Blake Ferguson yesterday, effective immediately.

Canberra chief executive Don Furner said he had attempted to make contact with Ferguson on Tuesday and yesterday to discuss with him why he had missed training, but was unsuccessful in making contact.

- JOSH SPASARO



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