I think everyone is in agreement that Ben Barba has done wrong and his fall from grace is deserved if the alleged actions against him are true.
But a video that emerged online last week of a Nine News reporter goading him in a car park left me and many others feeling slightly uncomfortable.
Clearly distressed and under relenting pressure from Australia’s media, Barba snapped as the reporter posed an avalanche of questions his way.
“I don’t feel lucky. I’ve lost everything!”
Barba’s words may only be that, words, but they were said with meaning and in that moment you could see a man on the edge, someone who needs to be left alone.
The day after the incident with the reporter, Barba handed himself into Mackay police station and was charged with two counts of public nuisance.
— FOX LEAGUE (@FOXNRL) March 11, 2019
Clearly troubled, Barba looked to be turning his life around up until the start of this year.
Sacked by Cronulla after testing positive for cocaine in late 2016, Barba served his time and reignited his career in England with St Helens.
He was sensational in 18 months in Super League and after been crowned Man of Steel in October, he agreed a deal to return to the NRL with North Queensland.
But just when it looked like his long road back to NRL stardom was in reach, Barba’s world came crumbling back down.
The alleged altercation with his partner in a Townsville nightclub is inexcusable if proved and he has paid the ultimate price with his career in tatters.
After viewing CCTV footage, the former Saint was sacked by his club and banned from playing in the NRL for life, meaning the end of his reported $300,000 salary before playing a game for the Cowboys.
The RFL also ruled out any possible return to England, leaving Barba with no choice but to start a new job as a labourer in order to earn a living for him and his family.
With that in mind we have to remember that Barba is no longer a rugby league player, so why can he not be left alone now to do the right thing and earn a wage like the rest of us?
There is no escape for Barba, whether that’s on TV, online or outside his front door. The pressure he is under could have devastating effects on him.
I’m no expert in mental health but knowing the guy is been followed by a reporter while trying to work does not sit well with me, who is advising a major media company to do this?
It has led to some NRL players coming out in his defence and whilst not condoning what he has allegedly done, Isaac Luke tweeted asking why the reporter wanted to rile him at work, stating that it amounted to bullying.
You could also see the video was cleverly edited to only include the parts which painted Barba in a bad light with the headline “I will hurt you” dominating the mainstream Australian media.
It’s time to let him get on with his life. Mental illness is a serious issue and in this country we saw the devastating impact a ban from the game had on the late Terry Newton. I certainly don’t want to see a repeat of that.
The facts are the man has done wrong and only has himself to blame, but he has lost his livelihood, reputation and received no end of criticism, that’s a lot to handle for anyone, no matter what they have done.
Barba will face the Townsville Magistrates Court this Friday and the result of the case will undoubtedly be all over the media, that I can accept.
But the media hounding of his private life I simply can’t approve and it’s time the media looked at the bigger picture, because Barba’s whole family are the victims of this damaging episode.
So let him get on with the rest of his life outside the public glare, while receiving the help needed to piece his life back together away from the sport and TV cameras.