Cronulla coach Shane Flanagan says Ben Barba could start against South Sydney on Monday despite being named on the bench.
The 2012 Dally M Medal winner has struggled to fire since his arrival from Brisbane and lost his place in the starting line-up due to the impressive performances of Jack Bird while Barba was serving a two-match suspension.
Cronulla have turned around their season following a slow start with back-to-back wins over the Sydney Roosters and Newcastle.
Barba returned last week and came off the bench just before halftime and shortly after the break he scored a try to help the Sharks orchestrate their 22-6 win over the Knights.
Although he wasn’t named in Flanagan’s run-on side to face Souths, the coach said he may still opt to start him at fullback.
“He’s a quality player and he will be in our 17 somewhere,” Flanagan said.
“He could trot out there on Monday and start, he’s an important player for us.
“Benny at the moment contributes a fair bit for us at fullback so I’ve a bit of rotation going on where I can move Valentine Holmes on to the wing and Michael Gordon into the centres if we need to.
“It’s a good luxury to have.”
Barba limped off five minutes from time against the Knights with a knee injury but has been passed fit to play and Flanagan believes his confidence was given a huge boost as a result of the win.
“He’s rehabbed well this week and has a bit of spring in his step and a smile on his face.
“There was real pressure on him, a big-name signing and when the team is not winning games it doesn’t help.
“But he’s handled it well.”
CRONULLA v SOUTH SYDNEY
* Cronulla have won three of the last four meetings between the sides at Remondis Stadium.
* Glenn Stewart has a fantastic record against the Sharks, winning nine of his 10 career matches, Stewart has also never lost at Shark Park.
* Souths winger Alex Johnston has scored 26 tries in his 24 career matches and has failed to score just four times in his past 17 matches.
* Adam Reynolds has missed two games since making his debut in 2012 – the Rabbitohs have lost both of them.