Is it too little too late.
Once again (I’m getting sick of saying that) Rugby League and the NRL are in the news for all the wrong reasons.
Serial offender, Ben Barba, has been sacked by his new club, the North Queensland Cowboys, without even donning his new jersey for a game.
Cowboys management decided that enough is enough after an incident at a Townsville casino in which Barba allegedly hit his long term partner.
This, despite his partner pleading with the club not to sack him, as she feared for her family’s financial stability.
NRL CEO, Todd Greenberg, says if the CCTV footage backs up the claims, then Barba will never be allowed back into the NRL.
This is not the first time Barba has been accused of hitting his partner.
After winning the Dally M award for best player in 2012 while he was at the Bulldogs, Barba had some “off field issues” prior to the 2013 season.
He was stood down indefinitely by then Bulldogs CEO Todd Greenberg.
At the time, there were allegations of domestic violence, with photos of the same partner with a bloodied face that were allegedly given to the Bulldogs.
Barba returned in the fourth round, effectively having served a suspension of three weeks.
I seem to recall George Burgess copping a two-week suspension for throwing a water bottle that didn’t even hit anyone.
Todd Greenberg talks tough, but he and the NRL have had ample opportunity to take a stand over the years.
In 2009, Greg Bird was sentenced to gaol for the 2008 assault of his then girlfriend.
He was also fined $5000 for trying to blame a friend for the assault.
Following the 2008 season when the assault occurred, Bird moved to Super League.
The NRL had a perfect opportunity to send a message that assaulting his partner was not on — but didn’t.
Bird was allowed to return to the NRL with the Gold Coast Titans in 2010 and played for another six years.
In December 2018, former Kangaroo, State of Origin player and current Manly Sea Eagle Dylan Walker was arrested for assaulting his partner.
His partner made a statement to police, but later withdrew it.
But the police have decided to proceed with charges as they have three witnesses.
Walker is on leave from the Sea Eagles, but I haven’t heard any statement from Greenberg or the NRL about any possible sanction they may impose?
It is time the NRL got tough on domestic violence.
There is no place in our great game for anyone who assaults their partner.
I have deliberately not named any of the women involved, as they are all innocent parties.
In most of these cases, alcohol was involved.
I implore all sportsmen to have a good hard look at themselves.
If you can’t handle the grog without being an idiot, DON’T DRINK. And whatever you do, NEVER HIT YOUR PARTNER.
And remember, there’s no such thing as too much sport!
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