DREAM Team full back Ben Barba is determined to repay Saints for getting his career back on track by signing off his stint in England with a Grand Final.

Barba, who has scored 31 tries in an outstanding season in the red vee, cited homesickness as the reason behind his switch to North Queensland Cowboys next year.

After a season-long speculation, the 29-year-old finally confirmed that ‘he’s going home’– but he has unfinished business before he packs his bags.

Barba said: “It was good to get it out there so I don’t have to answer the question a thousand times when I walk down the street.

“Now I am going home I want to finish the best I possibly can at the club and win a Grand Final.”

If he did that, he would sign off in a similar style to compatriots Mal Meninga and Jamie Lyon who won the Premiership and Grand Final respectively in their last games.

That is something Barba is keen to emulate, and has begun to return to his early season form.

“To be even be talked about in the same breath as those guys is an unreal honour,” Barba said.

“That is something that has been a little bit of a driver for me, to go out giving this club something back for what they have done for me and my family.

“Deep down it is driving me, though I don’t want to get too ahead of myself because we have still got to play a very good Warrington side, coached by my old mate Pricey. We have got to get past them to get to Old Trafford.”

Barba was in rugby league wilderness after being released by Cronulla for testing positive for cocaine in the off season, with Saints picking him up from Toulon rugby union in the middle of 2017.

Whilst at the club the RFL upheld the 12-match ban handed out in Australia, which essentially cleared his way for an NRL return.

“I can’t thank the club enough and the way they have treated me, my family, my partner and four daughters since the first day we got here.

“I think some of the people at the club are going to miss my partner and kids more than they will miss me.

“It has been unreal. Mike Rush and Eamonn have been outstanding from day one and helped me out with everything I needed.

“Now the only way I can repay them is hopefully make a Grand Final and win them a title,” he said.

Named in the Dream team, shortlisted for the Steve Prescott Man of Steel award and topping the try scoring charts, Barba has won plenty of individual accolades.

But team wise he wants to leave with more than the League Leaders Shield after building a real bond with his teammates.

He said: “I will miss the friendship I have made here with some of these lads.

“It is amazing how you can become such strong mates with people after six months.

“That shows with the way with the way we play footy and how much we enjoy playing in the same side with each other.

“St Helens is going to be a special part of my life that I will always remember. Next season or the year after I will hopefully be able to come back and catch up with the boys.

“The mate-ship I have made is for life – and hopefully some of these boys, if they want a bit of sun, they can come and catch up with me."

He has been impressed with his teammates and expressed his surprise at their ages, particularly Mark Percival and Luke Thompson.

“I didn’t realise how young some of these guys are,” he said.

“Guys like Tommy, Percy and even Luke Thompson are so young.

"Those guys have improved this year and the world is ahead of them."

But he singled out the link up with half back Jonny Lomax as being a key partnership and one that has been productive for both parties – and the team.

“The way me and Jonny play footy together shows how well we connect.

“Jonny is a footy nut, he lives and breathes the game and is always asking questions.

“I think that is why our playing relationship has gone so well. We are always talking about the game and how we can improve it. Mine and Jonny’s connection has probably helped Percy get a few tries this year. "It is all about understanding to play some wonderful football,” he said.

Although citing homesickness as the reason behind his move, he accepts that Saints have facilitated his return to the NRL by giving him a platform.

“I have behaved myself over here and it has been a learning curve for me really.

“Again I am thankful to Saints for taking me in, with that 12-game ban from a stupid mistake and get me thinking positively again about my football.

“That has got me back to the NRL – playing good footy and getting other clubs interested again. It has worked well both ways,

“I had a few options – and some were longer than a year, but the chance to go back to North Queensland and represent that part of the world where I am from is a real honour.

“I grew up three hours down the road in Mackay so it is almost home for me and that is why I jumped at the possibility of going there. I am looking forward to driving home on the weekend to be able to catch up with my mum and dad.

“Justin and Rushy knew what was going one while other stuff was getting worked out. It is good now it is out in the open and explain why ‘Barba’s going home’.

As for that chant that has followed him all year, he said: “It got a bit tiring, but I enjoyed it the other week at Warrington when the Saints fans started singing it out of respect.

“I wanted to leave a mark on this town and this club. And there is no better feeling than when you go to the fence and see a kid with a smile on his face, after giving him your boots.

“We were all kids one day and you could only ever dream of getting your heroes to come over and give you something. It was wonderful to see him share the boots with his mate too.”