Canterbury are relishing a chance to play Ben Barba in round one of the next NRL season when the Bulldogs face Brisbane at ANZ Stadium.
Canterbury captain Michael Ennis admits he doesn’t know how Ben Barba will be received by Bulldogs fans when the Brisbane signing comes face-to-face with his former teammates in round one.
Last season Bulldogs fans had to wait until round six and travel away to seek revenge on Sonny Bill Williams, but next year Barba will be brought right to their doorstop in a Friday night blockbuster at ANZ Stadium.
Ennis said the Bulldogs will relish the chance to play the Broncos in a season-opener, because all the attention will be on Barba.
However, Canterbury are focused on getting the two points rather than settling any personal scores, after their season was dealt a major blow by winning just one from their opening six clashes in 2013.
Bulldogs fans, though, may have revenge on their minds.
“I don’t really know, to be honest, how the fans are feeling. I guess time will tell,” Ennis said.
“But from a playing point of view, our focus for us when we come up against Brisbane in round one will be getting off to a good start. We missed the boat a little bit early last year.
“A lot of the focus through the media will be on Ben playing against his old club and hopefully for us we can go about our business and our preparation and the focus goes off us.”
Barba sought to go to Brisbane for family reasons, however the Bulldogs faithful may have a tougher time forgiving him, given the years of nurturing and faith the club had shown in the star fullback.
Prop Aiden Tolman left the Melbourne Storm to join the Bulldogs two seasons ago and said if Barba is anything like him, he’ll be eager to prove a point.
But Tolman said the Bulldogs had “moved on” from Barba.
“He’s moved on with his life, as have we here,” Tolman said.
“If you’ve got some mates who were at that club, you always love playing against them and I guess that’s going to be no different for Benny.”
The Bulldogs are yet to decide on the future of lock Reni Maitua, suspended by the club after being charged with assault.
“I thought he had a terrific season when he was playing with the Eels and no doubt he’d be handy for us so we’ll just have to see what happens,” Ennis said.