Holbrook reaction as Ben Barba deregistered by NRL

Ben Barba
Ben Barba
Share this article

Reigning Man of Steel Ben Barba has been deregistered by the National Rugby League after the game's integrity unit viewed CCTV footage of an alleged assault on his partner.

The 29-year-old former St Helens full-back, who was the leading try-scorer in Super League in 2018, was sacked by his new club, North Queensland Cowboys, without playing a game following the alleged incident outside a Townsville casino.

NRL chief executive Todd Greenberg said the integrity unit probe found "there was a physical altercation between the player and his partner".

In a video posted on the NRL website, he told a press conference: "His registration with the game is no longer and I can't see a time, at any time in the future, that he'll be welcomed back."

The Rugby Football League previously said it would uphold any ban imposed by the NRL.

Greenberg, who revealed he had not had any contact with Barba, said he would not call for a worldwide sanction.

"What I am going to say is that in the jurisdiction that I uphold, there's no place for him. It's probably time for Ben to find a new vocation."

Barba may be in hot water Down Under once more but during his stint at St Helens he was 'a model professional' according to head coach Justin Holbrook.

''We had no problems with him whatsoever last year,'' said Holbrook, who seemed to have resurrected his fellow countryman's career following his off-the-field problems..

He added: ''Ben was fantastic for us and it's a shame to hear the situation he now finds himself in.''

In 2017, the RFL rejected an appeal by St Helens against a 12-match ban imposed by the NRL on Barba for cocaine use in the aftermath of Cronulla's 2016 NRL Grand Final triumph.

Sacked by Cronulla, Barba had a brief spell in rugby union with French club Toulon before being snapped up by St Helens in May 2017 in the face of competition from Warrington.

He was restricted to playing the last five matches of the season for Saints, but made up for lost time in 2018 when he was named in the Super League Dream Team and became the first player to win both the Dally M Medal and Man of Steel.

Barba was then released from the final year of his contract with Saints after he was handed a chance to resurrect his NRL career with the Cowboys, who on Friday announced they had terminated his contract due to a "significant breach of the terms".

Speaking of his decision on Tuesday, Greenberg said: "This is an enormous outcome because this is a guy that now loses his livelihood and career in the game. It's a very clear message for a lot of players in our sport that it is a great privilege to play rugby league, to put a jersey on, to earn a significant income which they deserve as footballers.

"But it comes with real responsibility. And if you start to step outside the crease, you're going to put your livelihood at risk. This is a prime example."

The alleged Townsville incident is being investigated by Queensland police.