Wednesday, 28 February 2024
"In the confines of Alex Barker's mind, it would appear that three things have emerged as the dominate considerations of the day.

A decade after his Sydney boarding-school experience produced a confident young man, and almost three years after he returned home to Moree to live, the 28-year-old presides over a life teeming with richness.

Long gone is the corporate space Barker moved in at the Commonwealth Bank in Sydney, with him recently starting a new job that enables him to give back to the community.

"I've always wanted to be involved in helping the community in Moree in some capacity," he said of his Aboriginal community liaison officer gig with the NSW Department of Education.

As Barker spoke, his wife Emily was in Newcastle awaiting the imminent birth of their third child. Their first two children - Isobel, 4, and Violet, 3 - were cesarean sections.

Emily has another daughter - 10-year-old April - from a previous relationship.

I've always wanted to be involved in helping the community in Moree in some capacity.

Barker said: "She wants to try for a natural birth this time, so she has to be down there [Newcastle] ... there's more help down there.

"So whenever she goes into labour or something, I've just gotta head off and get down there as quick as I can."

Barker was speaking at the inaugural Western Challenge knockout rugby league tournament in Moree, where he played for the Paul "Poey" Raveneau Memorial side.

In a clash against Moree Brothers, he marked former NRL star Blake Ferguson in the centres.

"It's good to come out here today and just have a hitout and just get used to it [rugby league] again," he said.

In 2024, Barker will play for the Moree Boars for the first time since under-12s. Following that under-12 season, he relocated to Sydney and boarded at Saint Ignatius' College.

He said he "struggled at the start" of his time at the prestigious school.

"It was just something different, coming from Moree to Sydney," he said, adding that he had to "build" up his confidence.

"And then you start making connections. And then you start feeling confident talking to a lot of different people, which is great."

In mid-2021, Barker and Emily returned to Moree for holidays - and stayed for good after being locked down in the town during the COVID-19 pandemic.

It's good to come out here today and just have a hitout and just get used to it [rugby league] again.

"It's been great," he said of the move home. "We've got both families here, which makes it a lot easier with the kids and that."

Emily also hails from Moree. The couple met in 2015 through mutual friends. "And sort of just went from there," Barker said. "It's been great."

Playing inside centre, Barker won a long-awaited premiership with the Moree Bulls last season. The previous season, he was named Central North Rugby's best and fairest player.

At the Boars, he will play under his father, Alex snr, for the first time. Alex snr is the Boars' co-coach.

Barker said his father "flies under the radar a bit", then added: "But he's well known in the community, and has done a lot sport wise. But very quiet."

So, in Alex Barker's world a life-affirming new job, a new baby and a new club are at the vanguard of his thoughts.

"It's been great," he said of his latest occupation - a sentiment that seems to apply to his life in general.

Courtesy of the Moree Champion 28/2/2024