Ben Barba and his lawyer, Campbell McCallum outside Mackay courthouse. Photo: Daryl Wright
Ben Barba and his lawyer, Campbell McCallum outside Mackay courthouse. Photo: Daryl Wright

Ben Barba’s rugby league lifeline after 'going to hell'

BEN Barba could return to the rugby league field as early as January next year after he deftly avoided criminal convictions being recorded following a drunken assault on his brother-in-law.

The 31 year old's Gold Coast-based solicitor Campbell MacCallum said Barba had been offered a contract with the Valencia Huracanes in Spain.

"There was a contract that's been placed in front of him, he quite maturely has decided to wait until the outcome of today's proceedings," Mr MacCallum said.

Ben Barba's Lawyer, Campbell McCallum at press interview outside Mackay courthouse. Photo: Daryl Wright
Ben Barba's Lawyer, Campbell McCallum at press interview outside Mackay courthouse. Photo: Daryl Wright

Barba pleaded guilty in Mackay Magistrates Court to assault occasioning bodily harm, breaching bail and failing to complete a community service order.

"Our main priority and target was to ensure that a conviction was not recorded, that could have impeded his progress to Spain," Mr MacCallum.

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"He is a young Indigenous man with a lot of talent who is certainly hoping to further his career in rugby league, whether that be in Spain or Australia or in the Super League competition."

A slew of current and former high profile NRL players including current Queensland Maroons Captain and Manly halfback Daly Cherry-Evans, Cowboys fullback Valentine Holmes, former Storm prop Nate Myles and former Titans lock Ashley Harrison wrote character references for Barba.

Ben Barba pleaded guilty to assault, breaching bail and failing to complete community service. Photo: Daryl Wright
Ben Barba pleaded guilty to assault, breaching bail and failing to complete community service. Photo: Daryl Wright

"He had conversations with them and understood they were going to put their names up before the court and he hopes to certainly not undo the graciousness that they showed by providing those character references," Mr MacCallum said.

Barba was dumped by the Cronulla Sharks and kicked out of the league after a positive cocaine test in 2016.

Following a stint overseas playing in the French and English league - while serving out his ban - the Cowboys threw him a lifeline.

The Cowboys tore up his contract before he even played a game after a domestic violence incident involving his wife resulted in a public nuisance in January last year.

Ben Barba training with the North Queensland Cowboys. Picture: Zak Simmonds
Ben Barba training with the North Queensland Cowboys. Picture: Zak Simmonds

He pleaded guilty last year and was ordered to complete 150 hours community service, but was back in court less than 10 months later for punching his brother-in-law Adrian Currie at McGuires pub.

Today he was fined $2300, ordered to pay $1000 compensation and convictions were not recorded.

This is the third time he has walked away from court with no convictions recorded.

"No one can escape the fact that he has been given a couple of chances," Mr MacCallum said.

"Remembering also the great talent that he is, that he's in the spotlight, some of those incidents may have been blown out of proportion."

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Mr MacCallum said the contract with Valencia Huracanes, who have applied to join the Rugby Football League's third-tier competition, "seems to start on January 21" next year.

"Thankfully things have gone his way, he's certainly a reformed man and hopefully he'll be able to do what he does so greatly on the field in Australia and mimic that in Spain in the years to come," Mr MacCallum said.

"I think certainly anyone who's seen Ben Barba play on the rugby league field would hate to see that to be the end of it."

*For 24-hour domestic violence support call the national hotline 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or MensLine on 1800 600 636.


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