Barba had been expected to return against Brisbane on Thursday night from an injury, sustained six weeks ago against Parramatta, in what shaped as the final tune-up ahead of the finals.
But prop Sam Kasiano was the only addition to the side which beat Penrith last Saturday - with no word on whether Barba had been overlooked due to his ankle or the scrutiny placed on his early-season suspension.
The NRL integrity unit has been called in to review the Bulldogs' actions in standing Barba down back in February, following weekend newspaper reports in which the Dally M medal winner was alleged to have punched a woman in the face the day before he was suspended.
The absence of skipper Kurt Gidley with a foot injury is set to make Danny Buderus' Newcastle farewell a slightly longer one - the veteran hooker set for an increased role against Parramatta on Sunday.
Depending on other results before they play, the Knights might have to win to make the finals.
And while 80 minutes might be a bit too far a stretch, Buderus was committed to doing what he could to help the Knights into the finals.
"I don't have to hold anything back - this is my last hurrah," the retiring Buderus said.
"I'll do anything for the team leading into the run home ... if that means playing as many minutes as we can, so be it.
"We haven't got too many hookers in the club at the moment - we'll have to manufacture something."
Co-captain Jarryd Hayne was not named for the Eels, but he said on Monday night he held out some hope of playing in the final-round encounter.
Gold Coast prop Nate Myles was named but remains under a cloud after injuring his ankle, the Titans needing to beat Melbourne and hope other results go their way to make the top eight.
North Queensland will be without Test prop Matt Scott against Wests Tigers on Saturday night due to a broken middle finger which was surgically repaired on Monday.
His place has been taken by Scott Bolton.
"It's quite a nasty fracture, low down in the finger," coach Neil Henry said.
"The prognosis at the moment is three weeks will be the minimum.
"He's no chance this week and a low chance for the first week of the finals if we get that far.
"Hopefully we are still in there with a chance (when he returns)."
Manly will be without Brett Stewart (hamstring) and Anthony Watmough (knee) for Sunday's home game against Penrith, while Canberra will hand a debut to under 20s halfback Mitch Cornish against Cronulla pending salary cap approval from the NRL.
BRISBANE BRONCOS v CANTERBURY BULLDOGS at Suncorp Stadium, 7.45pm
BRONCOS: Josh Hoffman, Corey Oates, Jack Reed, Alex Glenn, Lachlan Maranta, Scott Prince, Ben Hunt, Ben Hannant, Andrew McCullough, Josh McGuire, Sam Thaiday, Matt Gillett, Corey Parker. Interchange: Peter Wallace, David Stagg, Dunamis Lui, Lama Tasi, Scott Anderson (one to be omitted).
BULLDOGS: Josh Morris, Mitch Brown, Tim Lafai, Krisnan Inu, Sam Perrett, Josh Reynolds, Trent Hodkinson, Aiden Tolman, Michael Ennis (c), James Graham, Tony Williams, Josh Jackson, Dale Finucane. Interchange: Dene Halatau, Martin Taupau, Sam Kasiano, Tim Browne, Lachlan Burr (one to be omitted).
Referees: Gavin Badger, Alan Shortall.
SOUTH SYDNEY RABBITOHS v SYDNEY ROOSTERS at ANZ Stadium, 7.45pm
RABBITOHS: Greg Inglis, Nathan Merritt, Bryson Goodwin, Dylan Walker, Dylan Farrell, John Sutton, Adam Reynolds, Luke Burgess, Issac Luke, Roy Asotasi, Chris McQueen, Ben Teo, Sam Burgess. Interchange: Luke Keary, Jeff Lima, George Burgess, Thomas Burgess, Jason Clark, Matt King (two to be omitted).
ROOSTERS: Anthony Minichiello, Daniel Tupou, Michael Jennings, Mitchell Aubusson, Shaun Kenny-Dowall, James Maloney, Mitchell Pearce, Jared Waerea-Hargreaves, Jake Friend, Sam Moa, Aidan Guerra, Sonny Bill Williams, Frank-Paul Nuuausala. Interchange: Daniel Mortimer, Isaac Liu, Dylan Napa, Tinirau Arona.
Referees: Matt Cecchin, Ashley Klein.
ST GEORGE ILLAWARRA DRAGONS v NZ WARRIORS at WIN Stadium, 3.00pm
DRAGONS: Jason Nightingale, Brett Morris, Chase Stanley, Charly Runciman, Daniel Vidot, Adam Quinlan, Nathan Fien, Jack Stockwell, Mitch Rein, Ben Creagh (c), Tyson Frizell, Leeson Ah Mau, Jack de Belin. Interchange: Matt Prior, Michael Weyman, Bronson Harrison, Josh Drinkwater, Will Matthews (one to be omitted).
WARRIORS: Kevin Locke, Jerome Ropati, Dane Nielsen, Konrad Hurrell, Manu Vatuvei, Thomas Leuluai, Shaun Johnson, Sam Rapira, Nathan Friend, Suaia Matagi, Elijah Taylor, Simon Mannering, Todd Lowrie. Interchange: Ben Matulino, Jacob Lillyman, Feleti Mateo, Dominique Peyroux, Ngani Laumape, Sio Siua Taukeiaho (two to be omitted).
Referees: Jared Maxwell, Henry Perenara.
MELBOURNE STORM v GOLD COAST TITANS at AAMI Park, 5.30pm
STORM: Billy Slater, Sisa Waqa, Will Chambers, Maurice Blair, Justin O'Neill, Brett Finch, Cooper Cronk, Jesse Bromwich, Cameron Smith (c), Bryan Norrie, Kevin Proctor, Ryan Hoffman, Ryan Hinchcliffe. Interchange: Jason Ryles, Tohu Harris, Jordan McLean, Kenny Bromwich, Tim Glasby (one to be omitted).
TITANS: Kevin Gordon, Steve Michaels, Brad Takairangi, Jordan Atkins, Anthony Don, Aidan Sezer, Albert Kelly, Luke Douglas, Beau Falloon, Ryan James, Greg Bird, Ben Ridge, Nate Myles. Interchange: David Taylor, Luke Bailey, Jamie Dowling, Matt Srama, Mark Ioane (one to be omitted).
Referees: Shayne Hayne, Gavin Morris.
NORTH QUEENSLAND COWBOYS v WESTS TIGERS at 1300SMILES Stadium, 7.30pm
COWBOYS: Matthew Bowen, Wayne Ulugia, Brent Tate, Kane Linnett, Antonio Winterstein, Johnathan Thurston (capt), Robert Lui, Scott Bolton, Rory Kostjasyn, James Tamou, Gavin Cooper, Glenn Hall, Joel Riethmuller. Interchange: Jayden Hodges, Tariq Sims, Ashton Sims, Ricky Thorby.
TIGERS: James Tedesco, David Nofoaluma, Bodene Thompson, Tim Simona, Lote Tuqiri, Benji Marshall, Braith Anasta, Keith Galloway, Robbie Farah (c), Adam Blair, Liam Fulton, Curtis Sironen, Ben Murdoch-Masila. Interchange: Ava Seumanufagai, Jack Buchanan, Shaun Spence, Sauaso Sue, Matt Bell (one to be omitted).
Referees: Gerard Sutton, Gavin Reynolds.
MANLY SEA EAGLES v PENRITH PANTHERS at Brookvale Oval, 2.00pm
SEA EAGLES: Peta Hiku, Tom Symonds, Jamie Lyon (c), Steve Matai, David Williams, Kieran Foran, Daly Cherry-Evans, Brenton Lawrence, Matt Ballin, Brent Kite, David Gower, Justin Horo, Glenn Stewart. Interchange: Richie Fa'aoso, James Hasson, Jesse Sene-Lefao, George Rose.
PANTHERS: Lachlan Coote, Josh Mansour, Brad Tighe, Dean Whare, David Simmons, Isaac John, Luke Walsh, Sam McKendry, Kevin Kingston (c), Nigel Plum, Lewis Brown, Sika Manu, Ryan Simpkins. Interchange: James Segeyaro, Clint Newton, Jeremy Latimore, Mose Masoe, Nathan Smith (one to be omitted).
Referees: Adam Devcich, Phil Haines.
NEWCASTLE KNIGHTS v PARRAMATTA EELS at Hunter Stadium, 3.00pm
KNIGHTS: Darius Boyd, James McManus, Dane Gagai, Joey Leilua, Akuila Uate, Jarrod Mullen (c), Tyrone Roberts, Zane Tetevano, Danny Buderus, Willie Mason, Robbie Rochow, Beau Scott, Jeremy Smith. Interchange: Alex McKinnon, Chris Houston, Neville Costigan, David Fa'alogo.
EELS: Ken Sio, Vai Toutai, Ryan Morgan, Ben Roberts, Semi Radradra, Reni Maitua, Luke Kelly, Tim Mannah, Matt Keating, Fuifui Moimoi, Pat O'Hanlon, Mitch Allgood, Darcy Lussick. Interchange: Joseph Paulo, Peni Terepo, Daniel Harrison, Junior Paulo.
Referees: Ben Cummins, Luke Phillips.
CANBERRA RAIDERS v CRONULLA SHARKS at Canberra Stadium, 7.00pm
CANBERRA: Anthony Milford, Reece Robinson, Jarrod Croker, Sami Sauiluma, Bill Tupou, Terry Campese, Mitch Cornish, David Shillington, Josh McCrone, Brett White, Josh Papalii, Joel Thompson, Joel Edwards. Interchange: Shaun Berrigan, Joe Picker, Dane Tilse, Paul Vaughan.
CRONULLA: Michael Gordon, Sosaia Feki, Ben Pomeroy, Jonathan Wright, Beau Ryan, Todd Carney, Jeff Robson, Andrew Fifita, John Morris, Sam Tagataese, Luke Lewis, Anthony Tupou, Chris Heighington. Interchange: Isaac De Gois, Tyrone Peachey, Ben Ross, Bryce Gibbs.
Referees: Chris James, Adam Gee.