Ben Barba is in line for a shock return to rugby league with Valencia Huracanes.
Barba, a Man of Steel winner back in 2018, has been out of the game since winning the award after run-ins with the law.
He was sacked by North Queensland Cowboys before playing a game for them after an incident in a casino and he pleaded guilty to three charges; assault occasioning bodily harm, breaching bail conditions and failing to complete a community service order on Thursday.
But his rugby league career has been thrown a huge lifeline after magistrate James Morton decided not to record a conviction on Barba’s criminal record as a result of an opportunity arising to restart his rugby league career with Valencia, with Barba’s lawyer confirming a deal had been reached to join the club playing in the Euro XIIIs competition.
“He is a young Indigenous man with a lot of talent who certainly is hoping to further his career in rugby league,” Campbell Maccallum told ACB.
“Whether that be in Spain or Australia or in the Super League competition.
“That (a criminal conviction) would have impeded his progress to Spain and certainly travel overseas,” he said.
“There’s a clause in the contract which does say if an NRL club or Super League approaches him with a contract, that they will release him immediately.”
The competition will take place in 2021 and will see Barba take on the lines of Czech side Vrchlabi Mad Squirrels and Rotterdam Pitbulls.