‘League is a lie’: Barba exposes sham
Should the allegations of domestic violence be proven, Ben Barba will be rubbed out of rugby league with the NRL and English Super League promising to ban the 29-year-old for life.
The latest scandal to engulf rugby league in the off-season from hell came on Friday night when reports emerged that Barba's North Queensland Cowboys contract had been torn up in relation to an incident at a Townsville casino.
Barba had just been unveiled as fullback for the indigenous All Stars.
The Courier Mail later reported Barba allegedly "attacked his partner and mother of their four daughters, Ainslie Currie" with Townsville police reportedly investigating the incident.
Former Queensland Origin player Billy Moore said the latest off-field debacle for the NRL had filled him with "anger, despair and embarrassment''.
"Rugby league is a lie. We lie about women's round and (the charity of) White Ribbon,'' Moore told ABC radio.
"The bar was low for rugby league anyway but I think Ben Barba is the sixth NRL individual to be hauled in for accusations of violence against women.
"I'm sad because I know how great our game is on the field. Off field we've reached a breach point where this cannot continue.
"The force of the game has to come down. Just because you're a great player isn't an excuse.''
Brisbane Broncos halfback Kodi Nikorima also told The Courier Mail it's up to the players "to uphold a good reputation for the game".
The NRL was stunned at the end of last year when Jarryd Hayne, Jack de Belin, Dylan Walker, Zane Musgrove and Liam Coleman all faced charges of serious offences against women.
Macquarie Sports Radio host Mark Levy said other sports should follow the NRL's lead and ban players if they're convicted of domestic violence.
"Every other sporting code should be following the lead of the NRL in banning players - there should be no second chances," he said.
"I'll keep saying this until I'm blue in the face, it's a privilege to play professional sport and the sooner these footballers and athletes wake up to that fact, the better we'll be.
"We can throw around the idea of minders when they go out in public, we can suggest private functions for footballers but at the end of the day, it comes back to personal responsibility.
"Just because you pull on a football jumper, doesn't make you superhuman and it doesn't give you a special set of rules. The law is the law and if you break it, you suffer the consequences like everybody else."
Australian Rugby League chairman Peter Beattie told The Sunday Mail over the weekend the recent months off the field had been a "trainwreck'' and implored players to take responsibility for their actions.
He also praised the Cowboys for getting out in front of the Barba issue and said it was "the sort of strong club leadership the game needs''.
"The ARLC has made its position against domestic and other violence very clear,'' Beattie said.
"It is also needs leadership from players. Recent unacceptable off field behaviour by a handful of players has been very damaging to rugby league and undermines the ARLC/NRL efforts to expand and build the game.''
Rugby League Players' Association CEO Ian Prendergast added the union would support the actions the NRL had taken if "the allegations are correct''.
Should the allegations be proven, NRL CEO Todd Greenberg will look to ban Barba from the NRL for life.
"We have run out of patience and tolerance for misbehaviour off the field," Greenberg said on Saturday.
"Violence against women is the very top of that list. If you're violent against a woman you can expect to be removed from the game. It starts now.
"The Cowboys have acted quickly and decisively to terminate Ben Barba's contract. That's a club showing the leadership that's required.
"I haven't seen the footage as yet but if it shows violence towards a woman then really there's no debate. Ben Barba will be out of the NRL immediately and I can't see him ever returning."
The development comes six years after Currie denied being assaulted by Barba when photos of facial injuries, believed to be hers, were published in a newspaper.
Then-Canterbury chief executive Greenberg was heavily criticised for standing Barba down at the time but not sacking him.
The English RFL, the governing body for rugby league in the UK, said it would enforce any punishment handed down by the NRL.
"We will always uphold any ban imposed by the NRL under a reciprocal agreement between RFL and the NRL," a statement read.
"Independent to that arrangement, the RFL Board has the right to refuse registration to any player - and would also consult with the Super League in that process.
"We are bound to follow that process - but if the facts of this case turn out to be as reported, the RFL would condemn them as deplorable."
Barba has faced plenty of controversy in his career.
Despite winning both the Dally M Medal and an NRL premiership, Barba was forced out of the NRL in 2016 after recording his second illicit drugs strike following Cronulla's grand final win.
He subsequently moved to French rugby before embarking on successful stint with St Helens where he rejuvenated his career in a magnificent 2018 season that culminated in him being crowned Super League's Man of Steel.
That form didn't go unnoticed in the NRL as the Cowboys offered him a NRL lifeline.
- with AAP
The 2019 NRL season will be live and on demand on Kayo Sports for just $25 per month for two devices at once on Apple and Telstra TV, for Apple and Google Android smartphones, on web browsers and via Google Chromecast Ultra devices.