St Helens chairman Eamonn McManus has lambasted the ‘incredibly unprofessional’ reports assuming Ben Barba will return to the NRL in 2019 – adding the fullback is ‘very happy’ at the Super League leaders.
Barba is the outright favourite for this year’s Man of Steel award following an incredible season thus far. His form has somewhat inevitably attracted a number of NRL clubs to the 29-year-old – but he remains under contract with Justin Holbrook’s side for 2019.
And McManus revealed his unhappiness at the reports, appearing to suggest that Barba will be going nowhere next season.
“I find the constant reports and rumours incredibly unprofessional,” he told League Express.
“It’s very annoying. It’s like turning fiction into fact. When clubs in the NRL are suddenly thinking ‘oh, Ben Barba is coming back next year’, then there’s a problem when he quite clearly remains under contract with our club.
“Let me make it clear: Ben Barba is contracted to St Helens RLFC for 2019. He is also very happy here as well, I must reiterate that point.”
McManus also believes that the way Barba’s future is being played out publicly in the media underlines the problem Super League has with its own image.
He said: “The media are saying it non-stop, and it’s absolutely appalling in my view.
“Ben is the type of player we need here in Super League; let’s not start linking him with every single club in the NRL, let’s instead flip our focus and try and get more players of his equivalent in through the door.
“Apparently, he’s too good for us, and it’s a case of when, not if, he goes back – and that perplexes me.”