Ben Barba was a rugby league player with the world at his feet – he could have achieved anything and everything.
And, in part he did. He was the Dally M Medal winner back in the NRL as well as the Man of Steel in Super League, but life has tended to unravel for Barba at points.
And, in a new revelation, Barba has broken his silence for the first time since his arrest, detailing his horror suicide attempts.
Todd Greenberg’s – the Canterbury Bulldogs chief executive – phone rang in the early hours of Sunday morning. The mother of Barba’s children, Ainslie Currie, was stressed following an argument with Barba.
“She said ‘Ben’s in trouble, he’s been out on an all-night bender and I’m worried he’s going to do something to himself’,” Greenberg recalled to the Sydney Morning Herald.
What Barba and Currie did not tell the Bulldogs, which was also missing from the NRL investigation, was that he had already tried.
“I haven’t told too many people this, but that day I tried to take my own life,” Barba revealed.
“That’s when Ainslie ran in and tried to stop me from strangling myself. I owe my life to her for reacting like that.”
Barba wouldn’t even know who he was at times.
“My partner would ring me and ask, ‘Where are you?’” Barba tells the Herald. “I wouldn’t even know.”
“The temptations outside of footy were out of this world. I wasn’t ready to deal with that. The women, the parties, the drugs, the alcohol; everyone wanted to be around Benny Barba.
“From being almost not wanted in 2011, then being the star of the show in 2012 … the fame got to me. I was just on such a high that the repercussions of what I was doing never even crossed my mind.”
After numerous off-field misdemeanours, Barba was checked into a rehab facility.
“Alcohol was all I knew in how to deal with problems,” Barba said.
“There was so much pressure. My relationship was breaking down. We’d split up for the first time. I was masking it and didn’t want to show any emotion.
“Sometimes I just sit back now and wish I never played rugby league.”