North Queensland Cowboys training from the Townsville Sports Reserve. Ben Barba. Picture: Zak Simmonds
North Queensland Cowboys training from the Townsville Sports Reserve. Ben Barba. Picture: Zak Simmonds

Barba set for rugby league return

Ben Barba has been cleared to make his return to rugby league this weekend.

 

Nine months after he was axed by the North Queensland Cowboys and banned by the NRL, the fullback will take the field in the Kanaka Proud Cup - an event which celebrates and seeks to pay homage to Queensland's history of blackbirding

 

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The former St Helens, Canterbury and Cronulla fullback is expected to line up for Mackay alongside brother, Marmin, who scored 10 tries in 19 Queensland Cup games for Ipswich.

 

The former Dally M Medallist, 29, was given the sack by the Cowboys after allegations of violence in a Townsville casino emerged on Australia Day.

 

Shark's Ben Barba during the 2016 grand final
Shark's Ben Barba during the 2016 grand final

 

His partner did not press charges, but after viewing CCTV footage the NRL decided to hand Barba a ban.

 

The ex-Premiership winner was however, charged with public nuisance and obstructing the police, charges he pleaded guilty in May and was made to participate in community service.

 

 

It put the kibosh on his return to the NRL, after he had played French rugby union and in the Super League with St Helens following a ban 12-week suspension for the use of cocaine.

 

Barba has since been playing football and working in a metal factory.

 

When contacted by foxsports.com.au, organiser Marion Healy said: "The Kanaka Proud Cup is not an NRL sanctioned event, therefore Ben is free to play.

 

Ben Barba during his time with St Helens
Ben Barba during his time with St Helens

"Ben is representing his grandmother's family, it is an event based on our community and our shared history of being blackbirded South Sea islanders in the area."

 

 

Blackbirding was a form of labour - which has been compared to slavery - which saw residents of Pacific Islands such as Vanuatu and the Solomon Islands, brought to Australia to work in plantations across Queensland.

 

Healy added that the event was also about raising awareness within communities about their shared history and social issues.

News Corp Australia


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