Ex-Super League and NRL star Ben Barba makes rugby league return 

THERE was a time when Ben Barba had the rugby league world at his feet. 

With both a Dally M Medal and Man of Steel under his belt, there have been few talents such as Barba to spring up and take both the northern and southern hemispheres by storm, but that’s exactly what he did. 

After lighting up the NRL with Cronulla Sharks and Canterbury Bulldogs, Barba tried his hand with rugby union side Toulon but returned to the 13-man code with St Helens at the back end of 2017. 

One season in the prized competition and the elusive fullback made such a name for himself that he scooped up the Man of Steel before signing a deal with the North Queensland Cowboys to return to the NRL in 2019. 

Before playing a game, however, Barba was released from his contract following an alleged assault on his partner with both the NRL and Rugby Football League (RFL) banning him from the sport. 

Since then, the 33-year-old has disappeared off the rugby league radar, only to return at the weekend in the Koori Knockout Grand Final. 

Playing for the Walgett Aboriginal Connection in a 60-team competition that also featured the likes of Latrell Mitchell, Barba made it all the way to the Grand Final. 

Despite scoring a try in that final with a fine individual effort, Walgett went on to lose 22-16 to the Newcastle All Blacks. 

Walgett and Barba enjoyed a brilliant tournament, knocking out hosts and 2019 winners South Coast Black Cockatoos in the first round before coming up against Castlereagh in the semi-finals, whom they were able to beat 28-18. 

For Barba, it’s a far cry away from the fields of Super League and the NRL, playing in front of packed out stadia, but his talent is still there for all to see.