A rugby league great says the new scandal surrounding Ben Barba exposes a massive ‘lie’ in the game.
The career of the former Dally M medal winner and Cronulla premiership hero is almost certainly over.
Barba was sacked by North Queensland on Friday after club officials viewed CCTV footage of an alleged incident at a Townsville casino over the Australia Day weekend.
He is alleged to have assaulted his partner and mother of his four children, Ainslie Currie, and is being investigated by Queensland police.
NRL boss Todd Greenberg promised to refuse to register any player found guilty of domestic violence.
On Monday, rugby league great Billy Moore savaged the state of the game.
“Rugby league is a lie. We lie about women’s round and (the charity of) White Ribbon,” Moore told ABC radio.
“The bar was low for rugby league anyway but I think Ben Barba is the sixth NRL individual (this off-season) to be hauled on of accusations of violence against women.
“I’m sad because I know how great our game is on the field.
“Off field we’ve reached a breach point where this cannot continue.
“The force of the game has to come down. Just because you’re a great player isn’t an excuse.”
Broncos star Kodi Nikorima also called for players to pull their heads in.
“Collectively and individually, we’ve got to uphold a good reputation for the game,” he told The Courier-Mail.
“We’ve got to pull each other up when somebody is out of line.
“We are role models to little kids so we have to do the right thing.”
The stunning criticism from within the game comes as new details emerge about Barba’s incident.
The Sunday Telegraph reports police and the NRL Integrity Unit are investigate three separate incidents.
They include a verbal altercation in the swimming pool area of the hotel, an alleged physical clash inside the casino, and another alleged physical incident in the carpark.
NRL’s hard-line stance
On Saturday Greenberg said the game would refuse to register any future contract if Barba was found guilty.
“We have run out of patience and tolerance for misbehaviour off the field,” he said.
“Violence against women is at the very top of that list. If you’re violent against a woman you can expect to be removed from the game. It starts now.
“I haven’t seen the footage as yet, but if it shows violence towards a woman then really there’s no debate. Ben Barba will be out of the NRL immediately and I can’t see him ever returning.”
The Rugby League Players Association on Saturday said they supported the NRL’s hardline stance.
The 29-year-old was already on his last chance after being forced out of the game in 2016 after recording his second illicit drugs strike following Cronulla’s grand final win.
He was forced overseas to French rugby union and the English Super League before being thrown a lifeline by the Cowboys.
Barba appears to have few career options in front of him with the league sharing a reciprocal arrangement with the Super League to uphold each other’s sanctions.
He will depart the Townsville club without playing a game as the NRL’s horror off-season rolled on.
Greenberg described the game’s summer of ugly headlines as a “train wreck” with Jarryd Hayne, Jack de Belin, Zane Musgrove, Liam Coleman and Dylan Walker all facing charges of serious offences against women.
Barba’s former Cowboys teammate Scott Bolton was placed on a 12-month good behaviour bond after he pleaded guilty to common assault in January.
“It’s disgraceful and we can’t do anything other than protect the game,” Greenberg said.
“We’re going to get tougher on this sort of stuff because we must protect the game. It’s exactly what we’re doing on the first opportunity to do so.”