What really killed Barba’s NRL career
Banned NRL star Ben Barba should have been axed from every level of rugby league following his 2016 NRL exile - in order to save him from himself, according to veteran Raiders coach Ricky Stuart.
Stuart's call for tougher punishments for players who misbehave off the field and bring the sport in disrepute was just one of several pleas the former NSW Origin mentor has made to top NRL officials in a bid to stop player misbehaviour from dragging the game through the mud.
Stuart made the public call for harsher penalties for players who step out of line as part of a round-table discussion with Melbourne coach Craig Bellamy, Broncos CEO Paul White and outgoing Wests Tigers chair Marina Go to be aired on Fox League 502's League Life from 7.30pm on Wednesday night.
Stuart declares in the episode, as reported by foxsports.com.au, that Barba would still be playing in the NRL if he'd been stood down for the 2017 season instead of being able to jump ship to play in the English Super League.
Carney was all but exiled from the NRL after the Sharks tore up his contract heading into the 2017 season after the former Dally M medallist tested positive to a banned illicit substance, reported to be cocaine, and was hit with a 12-match ban.
Barba is reported to have tested positive to the illicit substance at the Sharks' 2016 grand final celebration fan day.
Stuart in the episode tells NRL chief executive Todd Greenberg that the game has to get tougher on misbehaving players - and strip clubs of the power to give offending players weak punishments.
Barba was sacked by North Queensland without playing a game for the club last month over allegations he was violent towards long-term partner Ainslie Currie in an incident at Townsville Casino.
The NRL gave Barba a lifetime ban after viewing CCTV footage of the incident.
"I promise you if Ben Barba was driving a truck when he was first eliminated from the NRL competition years ago, instead of going to another club and on the same money or even more, or to go to England because he finds a safety net over there, Benny would still be in the NRL today," Stuart said, believing in Barba's ability to rehabilitate himself after catching a dose of real life outside of his NRL bubble.
"Look at Ben Barba now. I see pictures of him driving a truck like every other person in society," Stuart said.
"He's like my brother going to work driving a truck or my father who worked hard all of his life.
"They understand what it's like to have to get up in the morning and go and do something you don't really enjoy as much as going to training with your mates and going to rugby league.
"That's the biggest deterrent. That's the best education for a player.
"Players will get dirty on me for saying they should lose wages and they should lose their opportunity, but they should have to go and try and find a job while they're stood down and not get paid.
"We can't give them any more education or welfare. We do so much for the culture and the education of these players to learn to use common sense... choices. That's life."
Barba will fight to overturn an NRL lifetime ban despite being charged by Queensland police on Tuesday.
The fallen NRL star presented himself to Mackay police and was charged with two counts of public nuisance over the incident.
The former Dally M Medallist will appear in Townsville Magistrates Court on March 22.
Stuart says the NRL has to design a system that costs players money when it comes to signing their next contracts.
He said players who bring the game into disrepute should be put on a black list that should prohibit them from earning above a certain amount - in a bid to deter players from stepping out of line off the field.
He said the Raiders have too many times sacked star players, including Josh Dugan, Todd Carney and Blake Ferguson, and watched them walk to rival clubs on rich deals.
"It's one that's really disturbed the club in regards to making a strong stance on behaviour, letting players go, then to have other clubs take hold of those players. They were great players, they were stars," he said.
"It's really disappointed the club in regards to making the right decision and then you're at a disadvantage.
"What I believe is very fair is there has to be a market mechanism created from the NRL that we've got to reduce the value of the players who are noted as having poor behaviour.
"I believe that if a player leaves the club, he should not be entitled to his maximum amount of his wage in regards to his ability. It became a bidding war when those players left the Raiders.
"That was what was very embarrassing to the Raiders themselves and what becomes even more embarrassing is when you're playing those players and they beat you.
"We're talking about high quality players, internationals.
"We've got to be promoting the players who actually look after the game."
Meanwhile, Barba's lawyer Campbell MacCallum says the banned star has expressed a desire to return to the NRL and is seeking to overturn his life ban.
"He's expressed his desire to play football this year," MacCallum said.
"He wants to explore his options in relation to challenging the NRL ban and hopefully play rugby league in some sort of capacity.
"I don't think he'd play NRL but certainly local football, and that's going to help his focus.
"He's feeling the pressure of the media on him - he's also feeling the pressure of not being able to play the game that he loves.
"It's certainly pretty distressing for himself and a trying time for his family."
- with AAP