Matt Ballin has vowed to return to the NRL pitch and face off against the man whose place he took at the Wests Tigers – Robbie Farah.
While Ballin admits there is doubt over whether he’ll play again following a second knee reconstruction, the veteran hooker is eyeing a round one showdown against Farah and his new club South Sydney at ANZ Stadium on March 3.
Ballin, who will be 33 at the beginning of next season, has begun running and is hoping to make an appearance during the pre-season to prove to coach Jason Taylor he is still up to first grade.
After a disastrous 16 months, during which he has played two matches because of back-to-back knee injuries, Ballin is eyeing the light at the end of the tunnel.
“It will depend how the knee goes but hopefully (he will play trials),” Ballin said.
“It’s a week-to-week thing. At this stage I’d love to have a trial and get ready for the year.”
It remains to be seen if the two-time Manly premiership winner can get back to anywhere near his best.
After rupturing his ACL in late 2015, Ballin was let go by the Sea Eagles and picked up by the Tigers at the height of Farah’s feud with Taylor.
Taylor was determined to push Farah out and recruited Ballin as a replacement, only for his plans to go astray when the one-time Queensland Origin representative was struck down for the rest of the season following just two appearances.
However with Farah having moved on to a fresh start at the Rabbitohs, their fates threaten to intertwine once again.
“Robbie’s one of the best hookers in our game,” Ballin said.
“Hookers don’t really come up against each other in a physical sense in each game but there’s a lot of tactics that go into dummy half and he’s one of the best in the position.”