Ben Barba once had the rugby league world at his feet.
A Dally M Medal winner and a Super League Man of Steel, the mercurial fullback had it all – except he would lose everything he worked hard for.
Recently, Barba was arrested although he has not had to serve jail time after he assaulted his former brother-in-law.
The former Super League and NRL star had been in jail for over a fortnight after being arrested back at the start of December for assaulting his ex-partner’s brother Adrian Currie in his ex-partner’s home.
Mackay Magistrates Court heard Barba, 31, had called his former partner 50 times on the day of November 27, before going to her house and verbally abusing her while she was trying to go to work, according to the Courier Mail.
As she sat in her car to leave, Barba jumped into the back seat telling her he “wanted questions answered”.
The Man of Steel and Dally M Medal winner got out of the car when she began to drive, “slamming the door with force” according to police prosecutor David Epstein.
Barba, four days later, again made the trip to his ex-partner’s home, contravening the domestic violence order against him which prohibited him from going there without prior written consent.
Barba’s brother-in-law, Adrian Currie tried to stop him from coming inside, telling Barba “you’re not allowed to be here — f**k off”.
But Barba attacked Currie on his way inside, punching him several times – the ex-fullback already had a previous conviction for attacking his former brother-in-law from 2020.
Sentenced to two years’ probation, it almost spells the end of the 33-year-old’s career in rugby league.
In light of the sentencing, Barba broke 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.”
It remains to be seen what the future holds for Barba, with a return to the sport unlikely perhaps at any professional level, but everyone in rugby league hopes that he can finally make it on the straight and narrow.