Barba’s secret rugby league comeback


Phil Rothfield runs the rule over another week in sport, with a familiar name lacing up the boots in Dubbo. These are the weekend highlights and lowlights.


An unbelievable Bledisloe Cup form reversal by the Wallabies to beat the All Blacks 24-22 at Suncorp Stadium in a stirring display of passion, hunger and commitment.


The first half. Two send-offs, one sin bin and 17 penalties. In the NRL, the high tackles would have been put on report and dealt with by the match-review committee or judiciary. The rah rahs need to use the same practices.

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The TAB breakdown that cost the racing industry tens of millions of dollars and punters their favourite pastime of a beer and a weekend on the punt.


There's one thing the NRL needs to act on quickly. Peter V'landys three-year tenure on the independent commission is up in February. No-one has done anything about extending his term. He is Australia's best sporting administrator by a country mile and needs to be locked in.



Penrith Panthers five-eighth Matt Burton with his parents walking along the Cronulla mall. As much as the Panthers are desperate to keep him, we are hearing he will more than likely be at the Bulldogs next year, if not in 2022.


Cricket legend Glenn McGrath buying seafood at Notaras fish markets in Cronulla.


Contract D-Day for under-pressure Morris

2GB fast losing grip on NRL radio dominance


2GB breakfast host Ben Fordham and former Sydney Swans star Jude Bolton in a Lane Cove playground with their children on Saturday morning.


Catch you this morning at 7am on the Big Sports breakfast with Laurie Daley, Michael Clarke and Gerard Middleton to chat Origin and all big NRL issues.


Banned footy star Ben Barba has made a rugby league comeback over the weekend without the knowledge of the NRL.

The former Cronulla Sharks grand final hero turned out in the Indigenous Tribal League tournament in Dubbo that included a host of NRL stars, Jesse Ramien, Brian Kelly, Tyrone Peachey and Andrew Fifita.

Barba is banned indefinitely from the NRL for serious off-field issues including domestic violence that ended his career at the Cowboys two years ago.

Banned NRL star Ben Barba.
Banned NRL star Ben Barba.


However the tournament is not sanctioned by the NRL.

"It's independently organised," said NRL chief executive Andrew Abdo, "it's not funded or sanctioned by the NRL so we have no jurisdiction over it. Anyone is free to play.

"In future years we might be able to work more collaboratively with them.

"The Barba situation isn't ideal. If we're going to work together in the future, it would be helpful (if they respected our rules). We didn't know he was playing."

Barba and his brother Marmin flew in from Mackay to play for Walgett.

He beat the Queensland border restrictions by flying into Sydney and picking up a connecting flight without leaving the airport to Dubbo, which is not a COVID hot spot.

It was like he had never stopped playing, according to tournament director Matt Rose.

"I can't believe how classy he still is," Rose said, "He was brilliant. The fact he hasn't played for so long it's amazing.

"When you think about it, it's quite sad that he's no longer in the NRL."

Originally published as Monday Buzz: Barba's secret rugby league return