Captain Paul Gallen says he would welcome Ben Barba’s recruitment by Cronulla, after confirming on Sunday the Sharks are chasing the unwanted Brisbane utility.
Barba has been linked to a move to the Sharks for the 2015 NRL season for the last two weeks.
That speculation intensified on Saturday when returning Broncos coach Wayne Bennett confirmed the 2012 Dally M Medallist was not in his plans for next year.
Gallen, who is serving a back-dated 12-month doping ban, said on Triple M’s coverage of the Four Nations Test between Australia and Samoa that coach Shane Flanagan told him the club were chasing Barba as a playmaking replacement for Todd Carney.
“To be honest I don’t know too much about it, I have been staying away from everything, but I spoke to ‘Flanno’ for the first time (since he returned to coaching the club from his own 11-month suspension) and he confirmed it,” Gallen said.
“Obviously we have a fair bit of money (available) with Toddy leaving and going overseas.
“He is a terrific player, we will just have to wait and see if the coach thinks he will fit the club.
Gallen claimed Barba, who still has two years left on his Broncos contract, earning around $900,000 to $1 million a year, could fit in at the Sharks, if the Broncos pay some of Barba’s salary.
“Brisbane will obviously have to pay some of that, but there are not a lot of clubs left with $400-500,000 left under their salary cap … we are one of those,” Gallen said.
“He is a player who can add some more strike to our side.”
Cronulla began their pre-season training on Monday under Flanagan, who was banned over governance issues during the club’s 2011 supplements program.
Gallen and the other current Sharks players serving a doping suspension: Nathan Gardner, Anthony Tupou and Wade Graham will return to training when their doping bans ends on November 22.
Carney was sacked in June after a lewd photo of him went viral on social media. He has since joined French Super League Les Catalans.