BEN Barba’s message to the supporters on the eve of Super League 2018 is a simple one.

“Just get excited about everything because we are as players. Be excited about what’s ahead,” said Barba, who has shaken off a quadricep injury sustained in the friendly win against Leigh on Friday.

Saints go into the campaign highly fancied throughout the game on the back of the way they finished the 2017 season strongly and the X-factor that the Australian full-back brings to the side.

Barba is, in fact, favourite with competition sponsors Betfred to earn the Man of Steel prize this year, the honour for a player deemed by his peers to have had the biggest impact on the season.

The 2016 NRL Grand Final winner with Cronulla Sharks certainly feels that Justin Holbrook has a squad capable of being in the hunt for silverware when the business end arrives.

“I think we’re capable of being there at the end but there’s a lot of work to be done before we get there,” said the 28-year-old.

“Our first focus this year is to start the competition really strong and build a platform.

“You don’t want to be chasing games like we did towards the end of last year because it does take it out of you mentally and physically.”

After his arrival three-quarters into the 2017 campaign he says St Helens is starting to feel like home.

“I feel very comfortable here, not just when I’m at the footy club but when I’m in the community too,” he said.

“It’s a pretty special place. I can understand why the Aussie guys who have come here before me speak so highly of it.

“My partner and four daughters are over here with me so it’s always good to have a good family network to take my mind off footy when I’m home.

“They definitely feel a part of the town and at the end of the day it’s their decision. There’s a saying ‘happy wife, happy life’.

“They’re in and around the community and club too. My girls cheerlead for the Saints in one of the younger clinics, so they haven’t skipped a beat since we left Australia. They’re enjoying their life over here.”

He is expecting this to be a highly competitive 23rd edition of Super League.

“We’ll get a good read after a few of the opening rounds on who’s going to be the team to beat,” he said.

“Obviously you’ve got to look at your big teams like Wigan, Warrington, Leeds and Castleford.

“I think what separates the good and the better teams is being able to keep the same consistency in form for the whole year.”