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Super League to stand 'shoulder-to-shoulder' with NRL over deregistered Barba

Super League to stand 'shoulder-to-shoulder' with NRL over deregistered Barba
© Reuters
The reigning Man of Steel was sacked by his new club North Queensland Cowboys over an alleged assault on his partner.

Super League has slammed the door shut on reigning Man of Steel Ben Barba, who has been deregistered by Australia's National Rugby League.

The NRL acted after its integrity unit viewed CCTV footage of an alleged assault by the 29-year-old former St Helens full-back on his partner.

Barba, 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 last weekend.

Ben Barba
Ben Barba was sacked by North Queensland Cowboys without playing a game for the club (Martin Rickett/PA)

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

"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," Greenberg told a press conference, in a video posted on the NRL website.

The Rugby Football League previously said it would uphold any ban imposed by the NRL and that stance has been adopted by Super League chief executive Robert Elstone.

Robert Elstone
Former Everton CEO Robert Elstone was appointed chief executive of Super League last summer (Nick Potts/PA)

Speaking on Monday night, before the NRL's announcement that Barba had been deregistered, Elstone told Rugby AM: "I think we have two duties. One, to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the Cowboys and the NRL and also we have a duty to our own competition.

"So, in light of not knowing all the circumstances, it is almost impossible to see a way back for Ben Barba, back into Super League.

"I don't know what he's done and clearly it's a hypothetical in the sense of whether the player would want to come back and clearly whether any club would want him back.

"The decisiveness of the Cowboys' actions suggest there is something significant of wholly inappropriate behaviour."

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,"

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".

The alleged Townsville incident is being investigated by Queensland police.


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