St Helens full-back Ben Barba avoids serious injury

St. Helens' Ben Barba
St. Helens' Ben Barba

St Helens full-back Ben Barba has been cleared of serious injury after being taken to hospital with a neck problem.

The free-scoring Australian sustained the injury eight minutes from the end of the Betfred Super League leaders' 60-10 win over Salford at the AJ Bell Stadium on Thursday night, shortly after completing his hat-trick.

The match was held up so that Barba could receive treatment on the pitch after falling awkwardly in a tackle and he was carried off on a stretcher in a neck brace.

St Helens coach Justin Holbrook said in the post-match press conference he hoped it was precautionary and a club spokesman on Friday said: "We are pleased to report that Ben was cleared of any serious injury last night after being seen in hospital.

"He will be assessed by our medical team this morning and we will issue an update later in the day."

The news will be a big relief to Saints, especially after they lost England prop Alex Walmsley with a fractured bone in his neck earlier in the season.

Barba, a former Dally M winner in the NRL, has made a major contribution to Saints' impressive start to the season and is a clear favourite for the Man of Steel award.

He joined the Super League club last May in the face of stiff competition from Warrington but did not make his debut until September after being forced to serve a 12-match ban for cocaine use.

With a full pre-season behind him, the former Cronulla Grand Final winner has made a blistering start to the campaign, scoring at the rate of a try a game for his club.

His first Super League hat-trick has taken him clear at the top of the tryscoring chart and he is also high on the list of try assists.

"I can't single Benny out after a performance like that but he's been great from the start," Holdbrook said of the player's outstanding display at the AJ Bell Stadium.

"He played a couple of games last year unfit and in pre-season he came back a couple of weeks earlier than anyone else.

"He's been fantastic for us and he was again tonight. He's really enjoying playing and he's a leader in our team."

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