NRL bans Barba, police investigate domestic violence case

SYDNEY — Ben Barba has been deregistered by the National Rugby League in what is likely to be a life ban as Australian police investigate allegations of domestic violence involving the star fullback.

National Rugby League chief executive Todd Greenberg on Tuesday said he couldn't see a way back for the 29-year-old Barba after the sport's integrity unit had reviewed security camera footage of an incident at a Townsville casino on Jan. 26.

Barba was voted the player of the season in 2012 while playing for Canterbury Bulldogs, and helped the Cronulla Sharks win the NRL title in 2016. He left the Sharks after being suspended for 12 weeks for a second breach of the NRL's illicit drugs policy. Barba spent the 2018 season at St. Helens in the British-based Super League, where he was awarded the player of the season award.

He returned to Australia on a one-year deal with the North Queensland Cowboys but didn't play a game for the Townsville-based club before being suspended last week when state police launched an investigation into an alleged physical altercation between Barba and his wife.

Greenberg said he hadn't spoken to Barba, but had offered support and counselling to Barba's wife.

"I can't see a time, at any time, in the future that he'll be welcomed back," into the NRL, Greenberg said.

England's Rugby Football League and the Australian rugby union's governing body had previously said they wouldn't offer Barba a contract if he was banned by the NRL.

Greenberg says, "It's probably time for Ben to find a new vocation."

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