FULL back Ben Barba has expressed his delight and pride at becoming only the second player to win the Dally M and Steve Prescott Man of Steel awards.

Barba, who signed off in the Super League semi-final defeat, became the first Saint to win the award since James Graham.

The 29-year-old, who made a huge impression on Super League by scoring 31 tries, is returning to the NRL with North Queensland.

Barba said: “I am extremely honoured to be able to win this award especially after being nominated alongside two world class players.

“It is an unbelievable feeling. All I can do is go out and play the best I can and it makes the award extra special when you know it comes from opposing players.

“To be only the second player to win the Dally M and the Steve Prescott Man of Steel Award is a special thing and something I can tell the grandkids in years to come.”

After ripping up the competition from February to June, Barba and the team went off the boil in late summer - and that culminated in the team finishing with just the League Leaders Shield to show for it.

Barba added: “The season ended disappointedly with the way we finished. To be top of the table for most of the year and be so dominate, to then fall at the final hurdle twice is sad.

"But that is football; if you don’t turn up and perform you lose and credit to both sides who are in the Grand Final. They have both had great years."

He did have a parting word for the club - his team-mates, coaching staff and townsfolk - for the role they played in reviving his rugby league career.

"I’d like to thank all the guys at the club I have met over the last 16 months. "I have become great friends with a lot of them and to the St Helens people, what you have done for me and my family, and your welcome, has allowed me to enjoy my football and play the way I did. I can’t thank you enough,” he said.