Former St Helens full back Ben Barba has been cleared to make his return to rugby league this weekend, according to Fox Sports.
Nine months after he was axed by the North Queensland Cowboys and banned by the NRL, the 2018 Betfred Super League Man of Steel will take the field in the Kanaka Proud Cup – an event which honours the history of Queensland’s black birded community.
Barba, 29, is expected to line up for Mackay alongside brother, Marmin, who scored 10 tries in 19 Queensland Cup games for Ipswich.
The ex-Dally M Medallist was given the sack by the Cowboys after allegations of violence in a Townsville casino emerged on Australia Day.
His partner did not press charges, but after viewing CCTV footage the NRL decided to hand Barba a ban.
The ex-Premiership winner was, however, charged with public nuisance and obstructing the police, charges he pleaded guilty in May and was made to participate in community service.
It put an end to a return to the NRL, after he had played French rugby union and in the Super League with St Helens following a 12-week suspension for the use of cocaine.
Barba has since been playing football and working in a metal factory.
When contacted by foxsports.com.au, organiser Marion Healy said: “The Kanaka Proud Cup is not an NRL sanctioned event, therefore Ben is free to play.
“Ben is representing his grandmother’s family, it is an event based on our community and our shared history of being black birded South Sea islanders in the area.”
The perfect Christmas gift is on its way for Saints' fans of all age groups.
The club will officially unveil their 2020 home and away replica kits on Monday - and already the demand is growing by the hour.
Keep a close eye for news on the St Helens website to find out all details, including prices and when they will go on sale to supporters of the Betfred Super League champions.