Cowboys to throw bad boy Ben Barba NRL lifeline

A transfer fee may be all that stands between Ben Barba and an NRL return after the ex-Cronulla star reportedly signed with the North Queensland Cowboys for 2019.

The former Dally M Medallist will be back in the NRL after inking a one year deal to help the Cowboys tackle life after Johnathan Thurston, according to News Corp Australia.

But North Queensland reportedly needs to pay a transfer fee to Barba's English Super League club St Helens to release him from the final year of his contract.

It is believed Barba, 29, negotiated an early release from his UK club on compassionate grounds with his partner citing homesickness while raising their four children overseas.

It would be the first sighting of Barba in the NRL since he was sacked by Cronulla and copped a 12 game NRL ban for testing positive to cocaine following the Sharks' 2016 maiden premiership.

The Cowboys are believed to be keen to keep Barba but only offered a one season deal in order for the once troubled X-factor to prove his long term worth following the 2016 controversy.

The news looks set to shut down the Cowboys' interest in luring Cronulla fullback Valentine Holmes up north.

North Queensland had reportedly had discussions with Holmes' manager and were set to offer him a lucrative deal after November 1 when he became a free agent.

Barba's signing would be a perfect fit for the Cowboys who will farewell retiring playmaker Thurston in Saturday's NRL clash with Gold Coast Titans.

Barba looks set to take over the North Queensland No.1 jersey after the Cowboys moved on fullback Lachlan Coote for next year.

He may even do a straight swap with Coote after St Helens coach Justin Holbrook confirmed his interest in the 28-year-old Scotland international.

Barba had been in fine form in the UK, scoring 29 tries in as many games since linking with Super League leaders St Helens in 2017 after an ill-fated French rugby stint with Toulon.

Ben Barba at Cronulla training Source: Getty


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Ruthless England dominate Silver Ferns in Quad Series blowout

Relive 1 NEWS NOW's live coverage of this Quad Series clash between the Silver Ferns and the England Roses from Spark Arena in Auckland.

FULLTIME - SILVER FERNS 39 ENGLAND ROSES 52

England were just too good for the Silver Ferns in the final quarter. Their defence was key to their win, earning themselves several turnovers at will. England scored 14 points in the final quarter with New Zealand only able to convert five points.

QUARTER 4 - 55 mins: SILVER FERNS 37 ENGLAND ROSES 46

Karin Burger enters the game for NZ at wing defence - making her debut for the Silver Ferns.

QUARTER 4 - 53 mins: SILVER FERNS 36 ENGLAND ROSES 46

AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND - SEPTEMBER 15:  Te Paea Selby Rickit in action for NZ during the Quad Series Netball Test match between New Zealand Silver Ferns and England Roses on September 15, 2018 in Auckland, New Zealand.  (Photo by Renee McKay/Getty Images)
Te Paea Selby Rickit in action for NZ during the Quad Series Netball Test match between New Zealand Silver Ferns and England Roses in Auckland. Source: Getty

England now have a double digit lead over NZ. Maria Folau has been subbed off with Ameliaranne Ekenasio replacing her at goal-attack.

QUARTER 4 - 51 mins: SILVER FERNS 34 ENGLAND ROSES 43

England have a nine-point lead with NZ coming up several errors early in the final quarter.

QUARTER 4 - 48 mins: SILVER FERNS 34 ENGLAND ROSES 40

England score off another NZ centre-pass after another NZ error with a Maria Folau passing the ball straight to Serena Guthrie.

QUARTER 4 - 45 mins: SILVER FERNS 34 ENGLAND ROSES 38

Silver Ferns skipper Laura Langman has moved to centre and gets the final quarter underway. 

QUARTER 3 - 45 mins: SILVER FERNS 34 ENGLAND ROSES 38

Te Paea Selby-Rickit misses her first shot of the match but gets the rebound and converts her second attempt. NZ get a turnover late in the quarter but appears Maria Folau wasn't aware of how much time was on the clock. A missed chance to close the gap - England lead 38-34.

QUARTER 3 - 44 mins: SILVER FERNS 31 ENGLAND ROSES 38

England get a role on and have scored the last three goals. After a good steal by NZ's defender Jane Watson the Silver Ferns are unable to convert down the other end.

QUARTER 3 - 40 mins: SILVER FERNS 29 ENGLAND ROSES 34

Elisapeta Toeava enters the game - making her debut for the Silver Ferns on wing attack.

QUARTER 3 - 37 mins: SILVER FERNS 26 ENGLAND ROSES 30

Katrina Grant of New Zealand competes against Serena Guthrie of England. Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games, Netball, New Zealand Silver Ferns v England, Gold Coast Convention and Exhibition Centre, Gold Coast, Australia. 11 April 2018 © Copyright Photo: Anthony Au-Yeung / www.photosport.nz
Katrina Grant of New Zealand competes against Serena Guthrie of England. Source: Photosport

England's goal keeper Geva Mentor makes a great read to get an intercept. England extend their lead over NZ 30-26.

QUARTER 3 - 32 mins: SILVER FERNS 23 ENGLAND ROSES 23

New Zealand level the scores with a successful shot by Maria Folau.

QUARTER 3 - 31 mins: SILVER FERNS 21 ENGLAND ROSES 23

And we are back underway! New Zealand in possession of the ball to start the quarter but they lose the ball straight away and England make them pay. 

HALFTIME - SILVER FERNS 21 ENGLAND ROSES 22

Maria Folau has a chance to level the scores with her easiest shot at goal but she misses her attempt. The Silver Ferns show great fight in the second quarter and trail England 22-21.

QUARTER 2 - 29 mins: SILVER FERNS 21 ENGLAND ROSES 22

Katrina Grant creates a two turnovers in the space of a minute and her team have a chance to level up the scores if they can get it into the shooting circle. 

QUARTER 2 - 28 mins: SILVER FERNS 20 ENGLAND ROSES 21

England have been relentless on defence and secure another turnover. They have been giving the home side real trouble inside the shooting circle. But the Silver Ferns are starting to find their groove - closing the gap.

QUARTER 2 - 20 mins: SILVER FERNS 14 ENGLAND ROSES 16

Some great ball movement from the Silver Ferns as Sam Sinclair delivers a perfect pass to Ameliaranne Ekenasio who converts for NZ.

QUARTER 2 - 16 mins: SILVER FERNS 10 ENGLAND ROSES 14

And we are back underway! The Ferns get a turnover and the pull the deficit back to just four points. 

QUARTER 1 - 15 mins: SILVER FERNS 8 ENGLAND ROSES 13

A lot of errors in the first quarter and the visitors are up 13-8. The pace of the game is somewhat slower compared to the South Africa and Australian Diamonds match.

QUARTER 1 - 10 mins: SILVER FERNS 4 ENGLAND ROSES 9

Troubling times for the Ferns as England are forcing the home team to shoot long inside the shooting circle. The visitors have a comfortbale lead of 9-4 with five minutes remaining in the match.

QUARTER 1 - 6 mins: SILVER FERNS 3 ENGLAND ROSES 5

Some good defence from England as they force NZ to turn the ball over. 

QUARTER 1 - 3 mins: SILVER FERNS 2 ENGLAND ROSES 2

The scores are level after England make a mistake at the middle of the court to hand the ball back to the Ferns. Ameliaranne Ekenasio has converted one shot with Maria Folau landing a long range goal.

QUARTER 1 - SILVER FERNS 0 ENGLAND ROSES 0

And we are underway with the Silver Ferns with possession to start match. Maria Folau misses her first shot at goal and England get the rebound and move the ball quickly down the court.

PREVIEW

A new dawn rises on the Silver Ferns and New Zealand netball with Noeline Taurua taking charge of the side following a disastrous final 10 months under Janine Southby.

Taurua's first test comes in the shape of Commonwealth Games gold medallists England.

New Zealand will be bolstered by the return of legends Casey Kopua, and Laura Langman - who will assume the captaincy as she makes her international comeback.

It's not all positives for the Silver Ferns with star defender Temalisi Fakahokotau ruled out for the rest of the year with a ruptured ACL.

TEAMS

New Zealand: Karin Burger, Gina Crampton, Aliyah Dunn, Ameliaranne Ekenasio, Maria Folau, Katrina Grant, Laura Langman (c), Te Paea Selby-Rickit, Sam Sinclair, Michaela Sokolich-Beatson, Elisapeta Toeava, Jane Watson.

England: Ama Agbeze (c), Jade Clarke, Kadeen Corbin, Sasha Corbin, Jodie Gibson, Layla Guscoth, Serena Guthrie, Jo Harten, Natalie Haythornthwaite, Helen Housby, Geva Mentor, Chelsea Pitman.


Copycats? Aussies unveil netball captain for Quad Series... after a team vote

Caitlin Bassett's retention as Australian netball captain came down to a team vote, coach Lisa Alexander has confirmed.

In an unexpected revelation ahead of the Quad Series starting in Auckland on Saturday, Alexander said the Diamonds canvassed players via a 3-2-1 voting system on a semi-regular basis to determine their skipper.

Veteran goal shoot Bassett had won the most recent election after a new-look squad gathered to prepare for the series which also features England, New Zealand and Australia's opening opponents, South Africa.

It had been widely assumed Bassett was simply retained as skipper from their most recent campaign, April's Commonwealth Games.

However, Alexander said each player had been asked to cast their votes openly to keep accountability high and allow players to clear the air.

Questions about the voting method only emerged after New Zealand's newly- appointed coach Noeline Taurua this week revealed a voting system to unearth a captain.

Returning midcourt veteran Laura Langman topped the ballot and was unveiled today.

New coach Noeline Taurua let the players choose their leader. Source: 1 NEWS

Alexander wasn't surprised successful Sunshine Coast Lightning mentor Taurua had gone down the democratic path as it was commonly used in Australian netball circles.

"We've been doing that ourselves for a long time," she told AAP.

"Noeline is getting the opinions of her players and seeing where they stand and how they'll work together. It's a smart thing to do and will only benefit them."

Langman was named captain after a team vote led by new coach Noeline Taurua. Source: 1 NEWS

Alexander said the public nature of Australia's voting system meant nothing gets hidden between players.

The newly-elected captain or a teammate who falls short in the process can seek immediate feedback.

For example, not all of the Diamonds players voted for 30-year-old Bassett, she said.

"There are athletes that she'll know she needs to reconnect with or talk with and say 'what is it about what I'm doing that you're not happy with?

"So they can have those genuine conversations which are really important for us to move forward as a high performance team."

Alexander is relishing the prospect of a tightly-fought Quad Series.

She admits the match against England in Newcastle on Wednesday is in the back of her mind, having gone down by a solitary goal to the Roses in the final of the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games.

However, she was reluctant to look too far beyond Saturday's opponents South Africa, coached by her long-serving Diamonds predecessor Norma Plummer.

"I'm a huge admirer of Norma, we go back such a long way," Alexander said.

"She's competitive like I am and there's no way she'll coach a team that will lie down."

Kelly Jury defends Caitlin Bassett
Kelly Jury defends Caitlin Bassett Source: Photosport

TODAY'S
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New Silver Ferns skipper Laura Langman describes her role - 'I'm the PVA, the glue!'

Laura Langman may be the official Silver Ferns captain but she's seeing her role more as the adhesive in a squad of leaders than someone who will strictly control it.

Langman was announced as the first skipper under Noeline Taurua's reign thanks to a team vote issued by the new coach. 

She replaces Katrina Grant. 

"I was told last night," she said.

"We had to get our forms back by yesterday, 1pm!"

The recalled midcourter said she expects multiple players to contribute their leadership skills to the squad as they look to bury an embarrassing Commonwealth Games campaign earlier this year.

"I definitely want to ensure that I just do the coin toss and then from there, everyone has their role and contributes.

"I feel like 99 per cent of my role is to do my job, whatever that is on-court or off-court, to the best of my ability and to provide guidance or be a link wherever needed.

"Pretty much, I'm just the PVA. The glue in the middle."

Langman and the Silver Ferns take on England on Saturday in their first international match since the Commonwealth Games at Spark Arena.

Langman was named captain after a team vote led by new coach Noeline Taurua. Source: 1 NEWS


Revealed: The new Silver Ferns captain, selected after voting from players and staff

The Silver Ferns have announced today that their new skipper will be re-called midcourter Laura Langman, as the New Zealand side prepare for the Quad Series which begins on Saturday in Auckland.

New Silver Ferns coach Noeline Taurua let the players choose their captain via a 3-2-1 voting basis, but she and chief executive Jennie Wyllie also casted a vote. Defender and prior skipper Katrina Grant was named vice-captain.

"It is a very short turn around for our team heading into this series and as a group we decided Laura and Katrina were the players to fill those two leadership roles over the next two months," Taurua said.

"Laura's leadership qualities have been recognised in regards to her high standards she sets, her passion for the game and black dress, and her strong work ethic.

"She is a player who leads by example both on and off the court and has the respect of her peers.

"I know she’s excited to be playing at this level again and with the honour that comes with captaining your country and with the leadership experience that Katrina brings they will provide a strong foundation base for the side."

The midcourt veteran will has returned to the Ferns' squad after time overseas. Source: 1 NEWS

Langman and Grant will fill the roles through to the Constellation Cup and the positions will be reviewed looking ahead to next year’s Netball World Cup in England.

The opening Quad Series Tests on Saturday pits Australia against South Africa and New Zealand against England.

Silver Ferns midcourter Laura Langman Source: Photosport


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