'We checked on Barba in the UK and they said he was fine'
St Helens gave Paul Green and the North Queensland Cowboys the green-light when they asked about Ben Barba.
The gifted fullback had won the Man of Steel award with the Super League outfit in 2018, so there was no question about his form, but a history of negative off-field headlines made the inquiry a crucial aspect of the recruitment process.
He was involved in a drunken fight with team-mates Lee te Maari and Jamal Idris at the Bulldogs in 2009; was investigated by the NRL Integrity Unit in 2013 over media reports he'd punched his partner Ainslie Currie; and was sacked by the Sharks after their 2016 grand final win for testing positive to cocaine - his second positive sample.
But by all reports he had behaved during his short stay in England.
When asked by Fox League's Hannah Hollis if there was any indication he could get into trouble - like allegedly assaulting Currie at a Townsville casino and receiving a life ban from the NRL - Green shook his head.
"No, we did the best we could to find out how he was going over the there and it was all good," he told League Life.
Green also insisted the club was helping Barba's family through this awful time, which includes being caught up in the Townsville flood crisis.
"We're doing everything we can to support them, it's a tough time for them as a family.
On top of that, they were affected by the floods as well," he said.
Barba was sacked by the Cowboys after an alleged domestic violence incident on the Australia Day weekend.
After the Integrity Unit reviewed CCTV footage from the venue where it took place, NRL CEO Todd Greenberg held a press conference to declare that Barba would never "be welcomed back" to the game.
The English RFL and Rugby Australia indicated they would back the NRL's position.