Jeff Dickinson-Fox reviews the campaign which saw Melbourne Storm crowned premiers in 2017.
3 days ago
Barba was suspended indefinitely by the Club on Monday, 25 February for breaches of the Club’s Code of Conduct as well as a number of personal matters. As a result, Barba, in-conjunction with his management company and with the assistance of the Club, made the decision to take part in a rehabilitation program that would help him with his recovery.
“People must be aware that this is the first stage of a much bigger program for Ben,” Chief Executive Officer Todd Greenberg said.
“The independent experts and specialists have provided us with their initial report and a big part of their recommendation is for Ben to return to the structure of his day to day life and that obviously includes his commitment to football.
“Over the last few weeks Ben has demonstrated a distinct willingness to seek assistance and importantly he has worked diligently and honestly with the professionals who were charged with the responsibility to provide their care and expertise.
“It is still too early to determine when Ben may return to the playing field but he will now commit to a dedicated training regime along with a structured outpatient program.
“I have advised the NRL of Ben’s progress and our ongoing plans and they are comfortable with our position and the strategies we have in place.”
Coach Des Hasler echoed Greenberg’s comments.
“We won’t be rushing him back for the sake of it, we will continue to be guided by the medical experts and will heed their advice.”
Ben returned to Belmore today and immediately caught up with his team-mates and staff. He will return to training over the weekend and pending the views and analysis of the Bulldogs coaching and medical staff along with the advice of the independent specialists, he may be available for selection in the coming weeks.
“It was great to be back at Belmore today,” Barba said. “The time away from footy has been helpful but I have missed it.
“It’ll be great to be around my team-mates again, I have missed their company over the past few weeks and can’t wait to get back out on to the training field.”
Ben also acknowledged the enormous public support he has received over the last few weeks along with the professional guidance and mentoring.
“I would like to say thank you to those close to me for their support and to the many hard working professionals who have helped me over the last few weeks.
“The level of care that was given to me was incredible and I will forever be thankful to the very caring and compassionate people who assisted me during a very difficult time in my life.
“I have learnt an enormous amount in the last few weeks and I know that I have lots of hard work and sacrifice in front of me over the next few years.
“I’d also like to thank everyone in the media, the NRL, my sponsors and the many rugby league supporters for their show of faith, support and for letting me recover from my personal matters in privacy and I hope you can continue to support me and allow me to work hard and get better in my own way and in my own time.”