In news that nobody would have been expecting, the Canterbury Bulldogs have confirmed that star fullback Ben Barba has been stood down indefinitely and suspended from all contractual duties with the club, until further notice.
Barba’s indefinite suspension means that his scheduled appearance at the NRL’s season launch on Wednesday will not take place, with the decision made by the club after they became aware of numerous behavioural issues.
â€œWhilst we all know the undoubted on-field attributes and abilities that Ben displays, we must always maintain our focus on the more important issues of personal development and accountability,â€ Chief Executive Officer Todd Greenberg said.
â€œIt is our hope that the media and the many rugby league fans understand and respect the need for privacy in order for Ben and his family to make the relevant adjustments that are required for him to return to the playing field.â€
Barba himself also made a statement of his own, as he looks to overcome the issues that he admits he has (whatever they may be), and to also become a better player and person as a result of his time away from the game.
As Barba looks to confront everything head on, he feels that stepping aside to fix the issues is the best thing he can do for the Bulldogs club, himself and for his family.
â€œToday is a very difficult day for me as I feel Iâ€™ve let my family, children, Club and supporters down,” said Barba.
â€œMy issues relate to seeking help for personal issues that I face day to day.
â€œIâ€™m incredibly sad to be stepping aside as Iâ€™ve been so blessed with whatâ€™s happened to me over the past few years, but I feel as though I would be wearing a mask if I didnâ€™t confront the matters Iâ€™ve been dealing with until now.
â€œI feel it is best to deal with these problems front on and I believe that by doing so this will make me a better person and player in the future.
â€œThis will be a step by step process for me and whilst I hope to return to football soon, I hope that through this next period you can respect my privacy so that sooner rather than later I can return to playing rugby league as best I can.
â€œWhen I do, I hope that everybody sees a better person.â€