Disgraced NRL star Ben Barba is on the verge of shock return to rugby league in a VERY surprising city two years after he was blacklist over domestic violence allegations
- Ben Barba, 31, could play in historic North American Rugby League competition
- The 2012 Dally M Medallist was a freakish talent, but off-field he struggled
- Historic NARL kicks-off in June, Barba is looking to sign for New York franchise
- Barba needs to convince competition directors he is rehabilitated before playing
Fallen footy star Ben Barba is on the verge of a shock return to rugby league years after being banned by the NRL.
Barba, 31, the Dally M medallist in 2012 when on the books of the Canterbury Bulldogs, has approached a fledgling team in New York.
Management representatives from New York are said to have submitted a formal application to the North American Rugby League board for Barba to play when the competition’s first season kicks off in June.
Should Barba slip up off-field, the club, which will be based in New Jersey, will be forced to handover a monetary bond.
Ben Barba has reached put to the New York franchise to play in the historic North American Rugby League competition
Barba, 31, would be an instant drawcard in the competition, which is set to begin in June
Barba will also need to convince competition directors he is rehabilitated after a string of incidents away from the paddock in a drama-laden career.
‘Ben has approached us and we would have to consider the positives and negatives of whether he could be signed,’ the NARL said, according to the Daily Telegraph.
A decision is expected over the next few days, with Barba the instant top drawcard in the US if his request to play is approved.
The inaugural competition will feature teams from the likes of Atlanta, Brooklyn, Boston, Cleveland, Las Vegas, New York, Phoenix, Portland, San Diego, San Francisco and Washington.
Former Souths, Wests Tigers and Gold Coast journeyman prop Eddy Pettybourne has already inked a deal with Brooklyn, with all clubs required to finalise their rosters by June 1.
At this peak, Ben Barba was viewed as one of the best players in the NRL – (he is pictured with partner Ainslie Currie after winning the Dally M Medal in 2012)
Barba’s rap sheet makes for grim reading, and the upstart footy franchise would be understandably apprehensive given his previous behaviour, despite his obvious star quality when lacing up the boots.
In 2019, he was sacked by the North Queensland Cowboys before even playing a game for the club following domestic violence allegations.
At the time it was alleged Barba threw rocks at his partner Ainslie Currie outside a Townsville Casino.
Three years earlier, he was banned for 12 games after testing positive for cocaine a few days after Cronulla won their maiden NRL premiership.
And when playing for Canterbury from 2009-2013, allegations of domestic violence emerged against Ms Currie, as well as Barba seeking professional help for alcohol and gambling issues.
BEN BARBA’S COLOURFUL LIFE
July 2008 – Makes his NRL debut for Canterbury, in a 30-0 loss to St George Illawarra.
March 2009 – Gets into a drunken fight with Bulldogs teammates Jamal Idris and Lee Te Maari in a Wentworthville hotel. Is dropped to reserve grade for the majority of the season.
2012 – Scores 22 tries to claim the Dally M Medal and take the Bulldogs to the grand final. They lose to Melbourne but Barba becomes one of the most marketable players in the game.
February 2013 – Stood down by the Bulldogs, citing behavioural reasons. Enters rehabilitation for gambling and alcohol issues.
August 2013 – Released from the final two years of his contract with Canterbury to sign with Brisbane for the 2014 season on a two-year deal. The Broncos pay an undisclosed amount to the Bulldogs for the transfer.
September 2013 – Images allegedly showing injuries inflicted by Barba to his ex-partner are made public. An investigation by the NRL clears Barba of any wrongdoing and he is never charged over the matter.
November 2014 – Is told to look elsewhere by incoming Brisbane coach Wayne Bennett. Signs with Cronulla on a three-year deal that will keep him at the club until the end of 2017.
October 2016 – Claims his first premiership with Cronulla after returning to near career-best form. Scores 16 tries in 27 games for the Sharks, including the opening four-pointer in their grand final win over Melbourne.
November 2016 – Released by Cronulla after reports emerge he has tested positive to cocaine four days after the grand final, and faces a 12-match ban. Heads to Thailand for rehabilitation.
February 2017 – Joined French rugby union team Toulon on a two-year deal.
May 2017 – Parts ways with Toulon after being told he was no longer needed the following season. Signs with Super League club St Helens on a two-year deal.
September 2018 – Signs a one-year deal with North Queensland following a strong season with St Helens, scoring 28 tries.
October 2018 – Claimed the Super League Man of Steel medal award.
February 2019 – Sacked by North Queensland for a significant breach of contract before playing a game for the club.
February 2020 – charged with assault after allegedly punching his wife’s brother in the face