NRL 12 months ago

Sharks' door open to Barba return: Gorman

  • Sharks' door open to Barba return: Gorman

    SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - OCTOBER 02: Ben Barba of the Sharks celebrates victory during the 2016 NRL Grand Final match between the Cronulla Sutherland Sharks and the Melbourne Storm at ANZ Stadium on October 2, 2016 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)

Ben Barba's return to Cronulla looks increasingly likely after the NRL premiers confirmed they want the star fullback on their playing roster.

But Sharks boss Lyall Gorman says the club needs evidence the 27-year-old's off-field woes are behind him.

Barba will reportedly work as a builder's labourer over the summer to keep his focus.

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"The door's open for him but he's got to want to come back to football, first of all," Gorman told Sky Sports Radio on Thursday.

"More importantly, he's got to be settled in his own life."

Barba has returned to Sydney after spending a month in a Thai rehabilitation centre .

He faces a 12-match suspension should he choose to return to the NRL after being released from his contract in the wake of the positive cocaine test last month.

While reports have linked Barba to cashed-up Japanese rugby union clubs, Cronulla players have also backed his return.

Barba's agent Gavin Orr said the Dally M winner would endeavour to "stay busy" while he spends time away from the game.

"A lot of rugby league players turn to the drink or get on the punt because they have so much free time, so this (construction job) will be good for Ben," Orr told News Corp Australia.

"To Ben's credit, he wants to stay active and this will be an important part of his recovery.''

Barba returned the second positive drug test of his career days after the Sharks' breakthrough grand final win in October.

Gorman reiterated it was a "mutual decision" for Barba to be released from his playing contract.

"He needed to be well away from the distractions of professional sport and the demands of professional sport and, for the first time in a long time, focus on himself and his future and his wife," he said.

"He's the first to acknowledge, and he put his hand up and said 'I've got some issues I need to address. I've put them on the backburner for too long.'

"If we can look back in 40 years and say, 'look at Benny and the life he's led, not just around football', we'll be a better club for that and he'll be a better person."

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