BEN Barba is one of Australia's most exciting rugby league players but he spent Christmas Day playing backyard cricket with his father, his four brothers and his Mackay mates.
The five Barba brothers - Rodney, Aaron, Jeremy, Ben and Marmin - spent their first Christmas together in about five years, celebrating the festive season with their parents Ken and Kim at East Mackay.
In addition to their great sporting achievements, the Barbas are renowned for their community and cultural support.
But getting them for an interview was very difficult because they had too many places to go, too many friends to visit, a bit of fishing to do, and some barbecues.
Ben Barba, 22, who was in impressive form in the NRL this year, has re-signed with the Canterbury Bulldogs until 2015.
"He's still a Bulldog for the next three years," his father said.
"He says everything is fine, especially training under Des Hasler."
The youngest of the Barba boys is Marmin, and he spent the last season playing under-20s with the Parramatta Eels.
Aaron has won the Queensland Cup with the Redcliffe Dolphins and is playing A-grade with Norths in Mackay at the moment.
Jeremy plays part-time football, mostly in indigenous carnivals.
And the oldest of the boys, Rodney, is working on an oil rig off the Northern Territory.
Their father said: "It's been a long time since we've all been together.
"Every year there's always someone who's been unable to make it.
"But this year they all came, with their partners and children, and it was great."
Kim Barba was overjoyed to have all the family home. "It was great to have all the boys here at once," she said.
"It was the first time in at least four years, with Rodney coming down from the Northern Territory."
He returned yesterday.
The rest of the boys are expected to remain in Mackay for New Year's Eve.
Rodney works on an oil rig off the NT coast.
Aaron plays A-grade for Norths.
Jeremy plays in indigenous carnivals.
Ben has re-signed with the Bulldogs.
Marmin is with the Parramatta under-20.
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