Former St Helens full-back Ben Barba has signed for Australian soccer team Mackay Rangers in an astonishing career move.
The 29-year-old was sacked by North Queensland Cowboys prior to this season and given a lifetime ban from rugby league after allegedly assaulting his partner.
Since then Barba has been linked with numerous other sports, including boxing, but now it seems he has found a new home playing in the Mackay Premier League.
Rangers boss Andrew Susani has been searching for a new striker and after a brief trial, Barba has already started two matches for the club.
Speaking about his new number nine, Susani told the Daily Mercury: “From our point of view we are not interested in the past, we are interested in now.
“Ben came to us and was really open about it all. He just wanted to be one of the players.
“He’s an athlete and he loves competition and the game.”
After losing his $300,000-a-year contract with the Cowboys, Barba has been earning $20-an-hour as a metal worker in order to pay the bills.
However, the reigning Super League Man of Steel recently opened up saying: “As bad as the situation is, I’ve never felt so free that I can get on with my life without the pressure of rugby league.”
Whether his move to the 11-a-side game is a temporary or long-term arrangement remains to be seen, but Barba will likely enjoy playing in a less publicised sport away from the Australian media spotlight.
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