Saints frustration as Ben Barba tribunal is deferred

Ben Barba is yet to don a Saints jersey
Ben Barba is yet to don a Saints jersey

Saints chairman Eamonn McManus says he is “bemused” by the RLF’s decision to defer the club’s appeal to lift Ben Barba’s playing ban.

The Aussie was suspended after he tested positive for cocaine following the NRL Grand Final while playing for Cronulla Sharks.

He has since signed for St Helens but the NRL and the Super League have an unofficial agreement meaning bans in either country carry over if a player switches competitions.

But Saints believe Barba should not serve his suspension in Super League because his offence does not carry a suspension on these shores.

Players caught taking illegal substances, like former Wigan ace Gareth Hock, can be banned if they are caught taking drugs during specified ‘in competition’ times.

Barba’s offence took place out of season.

McManus said: “We were already bemused by the protracted period prior to being granted a tribunal hearing date. That has now been deferred further at the unilateral request of the RFL and without, in our opinion, good or valid reason.

“By next week it will already be six Super League games since we signed Ben Barba under the much heralded second marquee exemption ruling as proposed and recommended by the RFL itself.

“We merely legitimately seek to appeal the discretionary decision of the RFL to adopt his twelve match suspension from the NRL.

“We consider that we have an extremely strong case. However, the procedural process is proving to be inordinately long.

“That said, we now look forward to presenting our case at the Tribunal hearing now scheduled for Wednesday, in advance of our forthcoming game against Leeds.”