Barba to make rugby league return despite ban

Ben Barba will make his rugby league return this weekend, despite an indefinite ban blocking him from an NRL return.

Barba was deregistered earlier this year after being sacked by the Cowboys over a pre-season incident that led to police charges.

But the fullback will take the field in this weekend's Kanaka Proud Cup – an event which celebrates and seeks to pay homage to Queensland's history of blackbirding and is not sanctioned by the NRL.

The former St Helens, Canterbury and Cronulla fullback is expected to line up for Mackay alongside brother, Marmin.

Speaking to foxsports.com.au, the event's organiser Marion Healy said: "The Kanaka Proud Cup is not an NRL sanctioned event, therefore Ben is free to play.

"Ben is representing his grandmother's family, it is an event based on our community and our shared history of being blackbirded South Sea islanders in the area."

Blackbirding was a practice similar to slavery, whereby Kanakas or South Sea Islanders were coerced or kidnapped to be part of the labour force.

From the late 1860s, the blackbirding trade focused on supplying labourers to plantations, particularly those producing sugarcane in Queensland and Fiji.

Healy added that the event was also about raising awareness within communities about their shared history and social issues.

Barba has not played rugby league since his sacking by the Cowboys after allegations of violence against his partner Ainslie Currie emerged on Australia Day.

Ben Barba kits up for Mackay Rangers

Currie did not press charges, but after viewing CCTV footage the NRL decided to hand Barba a ban. He is not considered likely to ever be allowed to play in the NRL again.

Barba has since settled in Mackay where he is working in a metal factory and playing soccer for a local team.

Source

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