Former NRL and Super League star Ben Barba may have a route back into professional rugby league.
That’s according to sources in Australia who have revealed that the ex-St Helens star could be handed a shock train-and-trial contract in a bid to show his worth from an unnamed NRL side.
It’s unlikely that the former Super League Man of Steel would be thrust straight into an NRL first-team, but it is thought a return to the second-tier Queensland or New South Wales Cup would be the most effective way for Barba to obtain one last hurrah in Australia’s most prestigious sporting league.
It would be a sensational twist of fate for the fullback who was de-registered from the NRL in 2019 following numerous off-field misdemeanours – a move which was supported by the Queensland Rugby League (QRL).
That seemingly ended any hopes of Barba remaking himself in the NRL after leaving under a cloud back in 2017.
But, after walking free from the Mackay Magistrates Court following the allegation of assaulting his brother-in-law, the Mackay District Rugby League handed Barba the opportunity to play community rugby league back in April of this year.
Barba was snapped earlier in the year in a photo taken at the recent Paul Bowman Challenge – an under-9s community carnival that lasts for two days with the emphasis being on participation, good sportsmanship and encouragement.
Named in honour of former Proserpine Junior Rugby League player, Paul Bowman is a legend of the game having played 203 games for the North Queensland Cowboys between 1995 and 2007.
And, Barba was a main star of the show alongside current Cronulla Sharks stars Braydon Trindall and Ronaldo Mulitalo as well as Wests Tigers three-quarter James Roberts – who himself is on a train-and-trial contract in a bid to earn a new deal before Christmas.
Aged 32, Barba is perhaps looking for one last contract before he retires for good, but he will forever be remembered at St Helens in the Super League competition for the way in which he lit up the league towards the back end of 2017 and in 2018.
The former Saint was hankering over a return to Super League earlier this year and claimed in a newspaper interview that he regretted ever leaving the Lancashire club.
Meanwhile, the Red Vee moved on spectacularly, signing Lachlan Coote who has helped the club to three straight Grand Final successes.
And, now youngster Jack Welsby has taken over the reins at fullback, with the 20-year-old being handed the number one shirt by head coach Kristian Woolf.