NRL: Barba wins Dally M medal

Ben Barba poses with the Dally M Medal. Photo / Getty Images
Ben Barba poses with the Dally M Medal. Photo / Getty Images

Ben Barba hopes he can carry the buzz of winning his maiden Dally M medal into Friday's NRL qualifying final against Manly.

Barba's untouchable form this season was capped off with an incredible five awards at Tuesday's awards night, including the top gong which was secured after he gained an unassailable lead with two rounds still remaining.

His recognition as the competition's best player was never in doubt with the Canterbury No.1 finishing six points clear of second-placed Matt Bowen with a staggering 32 points.

And after crediting his teammates and coach Des Hasler as the driving force behind his sensational season Barba now wants to repay their faith with a dominant finals series - starting with arch rivals Manly.

"Hopefully I'm still buzzing from this night and I can take that into Friday and use it as a bit of confidence," Barba said.

"It's going to be one hell of a game on Friday. It's a game we're really looking forward to.

"We've all seen what sort of games Canterbury and Manly play after the last couple we've played.

"I can't stop crediting (my teammates) because they've helped me along the way so much.

"I'd like to hope (I can return the favour). I hope I do.

"Winning this award is going to bring a lot of pressure on me now from other sides, but I'll just put it back to them.

"They're there to help me out and make my job a lot easier and I'm sure they'll do it because we're a pretty close bunch of guys."

The 23-year-old also went home as the fullback of the year, the Provan-Summons medallist, equal top try-scorer and winner of the Peter Frilingos headline moment.

But the diminutive No.1 said he would happily trade all five of his awards just for an opportunity to play on grand final day.

"Absolutely. Any day of the week," he said.

"That's what we dream of as NRL players. Some players go through their life not playing in an NRL finals series or a grand final.

"I'd give all this up in a day just to be playing in a grand final."

Barba's form at the back has been the catalyst to the Bulldogs revival under new boss Des Hasler, who was named the game's top coach.

During Canterbury's 12-game winning streak, which set up their minor premiership, Barba polled regularly.

In the six games between rounds 18 and 23 Barba picked up 14 of a possible 18 points to put his place as the game's most exciting player beyond doubt.

He scored 21 tries, equal with North Queensland's Ash Graham, is the team's chief playmaker and has pulled off a string of outstanding defensive plays.

Barba tallied a commanding 32 votes, clear of Cowboys stars Bowen (26) and Johnathan Thurston (24) as well as Melbourne's Cooper Cronk (25).

"I had dreams of winning this one day but not this early in my career," Barba admitted.

"Words can't explain it.

"For a chance to win this award in front of those great players who have done everything in the game.

"And here's little old me, 70 games in first grade. To win this award is something special."

AWARDS
Dally M Medal: Ben Barba (Bulldogs)
Provan-Summons Medal: Ben Barba (Bulldogs)
Captain: Jamie Lyon and Jason King (Sea Eagles)
Fullback: Ben Barba (Bulldogs)
Winger: Akuila Uate (Knights)
Centre: Josh Morris (Bulldogs)
Five-Eighth: Johnathan Thurston (Cowboys)
Halfback: Cooper Cronk (Storm)
Lock: Paul Gallen (Sharks)
Second Row: Nate Myles (Titans)
Prop: Sam Kasiano (Bulldogs)
Hooker: Cameron Smith (Storm)
Coach: Des Hasler (Bulldogs)
Rep Player: Nate Myles (Queensland)
Rookie: Adam Reynolds (Rabbitohs)
Toyota Cup Player of Year: David Klemmer (Bulldogs)
Peter Frilingos Headline Moment: Ben Barba (Bulldogs)
Top Point Scorer: Jarrod Croker (Raiders)
Top Try-Scorer (shared): Ben Barba (Bulldogs), Ashley Graham (Cowboys)

- AAP

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