Ben Barba banned by NRL over ‘physical altercation’ with partner

The reigning Super League Man of Steel winner has been banned by Australia’s National Rugby League as Queensland Police investigate an alleged assault on his partner

Jack de Menezes
Tuesday 05 February 2019 10:50
Ben Barba has been banned by Australia's National Rugby League
Ben Barba has been banned by Australia's National Rugby League

Ben Barba, the reigning Super League Man of Steel award winner, has been banned from playing in Australia’s National Rugby League after officials viewed CCTV footage of him in an alleged “physical altercation” with his partner.

The 29-year-old was sacked by club North Queensland Cowboys last week without playing a match for them, having agreed a move back to the NRL from Super League’s St Helens over the winter.

The club decided to sack Barba over allegations that he struck his partner at a casino in January, stating that he had committed a “significant breach of the terms of his contract”.

The alleged incident is being investigated by Queensland Police, and Barba has not commented on the matter.

The NRL has now followed suit and banned Barba from playing in the Australian league, with England’s Rugby Football League also stating that he is no longer welcome in Super League.

“It’s time for Ben Barba to find a new vocation,” said NRL chief executive Todd Greenberg. "Where we see violence against women we'll act in the strongest terms.

He added: "These decisions affect people's livelihoods. They're big moments and you want to make sure you get them right.

"This is a guy that now loses his livelihood.

"I've had no contact with him and don't plan to. I've reached out to his family."

Addressing the alleged incident itself, Greenberg added: "It was described to me in great detail. When we see violence, and particularly when we see violence against women, we will act and we will act in the strongest terms.

"That message, I thought, had been pretty clear over a significant period of time, but if it hadn't been before it is today.

“Our players have an enormous amount of education and training, they deliver unbelievable things on the field but they have responsibilities off the field and when they make bad decisions, they make mistakes or they break the law they put their livelihood and their career on the line.

Ben Barba is under investigation by Queensland Police over an alleged altercation with his partner

"We're going to get tougher and stronger on players that do the wrong thing because we cannot afford the damage it does to our game. We've had some difficulties over this off-season but by and large you look at our playing group and they are doing some spectacular things in our community.

"The game has been damaged significantly over this period of time but rugby league has the ability to shine and to do that we need our players doing everything they can off the field as well as on the field.

"We'll treat every case on its merits but where there is violence and against women it sits at the top of the pile."

Barba has a track record for landing himself in controversy after he was stood down indefinitely in 2013 by the Canterbury Bulldogs due to off-field behaviour. In 2016, Barba failed a drugs test but avoided an immediate ban as he left the sport to join French rugby union side Toulon, though had to serve the suspension when he agreed to return to rugby league with St Helens three months later in May 2017.

He finished the 2018 Super League season as the top try-scorer with 28 tries in 23 appearances, helping Saints to claim the League Leaders’ Shield and claim the Man of Steel award, though the club were eliminated in the semi-finals by Warrington.

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