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Ex-NRL star denied Australian lifeline

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Rugby Australia close door on disgraced former NRL star

Rugby Australia chief executive Raelene Castle has ruled out the possibility of disgraced rugby league and former Toulon star Ben Barba from making a return to rugby union in Australia should he be banned from the NRL.

Barba was sacked by new club North Queensland on Monday after CCTV footage emerged of an incident at a Townsville casino during Australia Day weekend, where he is alleged to have assaulted his partner and mother of their four children.

The incident is being investigated by police, and NRL chief executive Todd Greenberg said he would deny registering any contract signed by Barba in the future if he is found guilty.

With Australian rugby league seemingly no longer an option for the 29-year-old, his career options appear thin, with Rugby Australia following in the footsteps of the English Rugby Football League by implementing the ban imposed on Barba by the NRL.

“In relation to players who have received bans from one sport there is an etiquette agreement that you can’t then just go from rugby league to rugby union and play the next week,” Castle told Fox Sports Australia on Monday.

“I would expect that anything in relation to a situation like that, that would stand because when you’re talking about issues at that level we need to make sure the codes are supporting each other.”

Castle said she believed the same stance would be held by offshore clubs should a rugby union player be banned, but she could not rule out the prospect of a banned rugby league player, like Barba, playing rugby union overseas.

“I think it’s slightly more challenging across international boundaries when it’s across codes but that’s what we have in Australia,” she said.

That could open up rugby union options in Europe and Japan for Barba, who signed a multi-million dollar two-year deal with Toulon in 2017.

However, he was released and signed for English rugby league side St Helens after appearing in just four matches over a three-month period in the Top 14.

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Rugby Australia close door on disgraced former NRL star