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Ben Barba may make Maroons debut this year : Meninga

Ben Barba Image credit: ABC
Queensland coach Mal Meninga has gave his strongest hint yet that electric Canterbury fullback and Dally M medallist Barba will make his Maroons debut this year.
Barba scored a hat-trick of tries for the Indigenous team in the All Stars clash earlier this month, continuing his lethal run of form.
Meninga said Barba only needed to play consistently before Origin I and a position would be found for him in the team
There are 12 NRL games before the Origin series kicks off at Sydney's ANZ Stadium.
"He needs to back up his form from last year and keep that consistency going," Meninga said.
"If he does that it will be really hard to leave him out. We will have to find a position for him somewhere."
Barba was in the Maroons camp last year for Games Two and Three and was considered to replace injured Billy Slater in the deciding game.
That duty ultimately went to Greg Inglis, with Dane Nielsen used in the centres.
"He's putting a lot of pressure on the current Origin side," Meninga said.
"I was pretty impressed when he came into camp last year.
"He's starting to mature as a young adult and he's saying all the right things."
There is no chance of Barba unseating Slater as Maroons custodian.
His only chance of being in the team is on the wing or as an impact weapon off the bench.
Slater has played hooker during games before when Cameron Smith moves to lock and such a positional swap would allow Barba to be fullback, adding lethal strike power late on in a close game.
Meninga last year preferred to use a backrower - Dave Taylor then Matt Gillett - as his interchange option.
Before that it was Cooper Cronk and Karmichael Hunt.
Barba would likely serve a similar role to North Queensland fullback Matt Bowen, who played eight of his 10 Origin games off the bench.
Master coach Wayne Bennett said at last month's Emerging Origin camp that Barba was charting a similar path to representative stardom as Slater.
A decade ago, Slater was among a rookie batch of Origin hopefuls mentored by Bennett at Queensland's Academy of Sport.
Within 12 months, Slater had broken into the Queensland team and is now the code's pre-eminent fullbac

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