Ben Barba survives final cut in NRL adverts
Some footage of Ben Barba has been cut from the new NRL advertisement but senior officials decided not to remove him completely after receiving assurances from Canterbury that he had not done anything that would severely embarrass the game.
Barba features in a scene in the television commercial, to be publicly launched on Wednesday, where he kicks the ball during an NRL match and it is caught by a young boy playing a game with his mates.
However, NRL marketing and commercial general manager Paul Kind revealed another scene had been edited out of the advertisement after Bulldogs officials stood down the 2012 player of the year over off-field problems on Monday.
"There was a shot where we had close to camera [a sign] that said, 'I feel all right', so we amended that clip," Kind said. "Based on the circumstances of yesterday and his state of health, we made that decision - but that wasn't a decision made as a consequence of his behaviour."
Asked if the NRL had any concern that the reasons the Bulldogs had stood Barba down would later emerge to be something more serious than they had indicated publicly, Kind said: "We have taken the Bulldogs' advice to leave him in."
He said NRL chief executive Dave Smith had briefed ARL commissioners after discussing Barba's situation with Bulldogs officials.
"We talked to the Bulldogs yesterday and understood that he wasn't going to be available for the [NRL] launch tomorrow," Kind said. "In having that discussion we needed to understand that we should proceed with him in the advertising and we are satisfied from what the Bulldogs have said that that is the case.
"We have listened to the Bulldogs' position and we have made the decision to continue with him in the advertising. I think any decision not to include Ben Barba would have bought more profile than less so I think leaving Ben Barba in based on what we know . . . is the right thing to do."
It is understood Barba's mother will move from Mackay to Sydney to be with her son while he tries to turn his life around after a breakdown in his long-term relationship with partner Ainslie Currie and problems with gambling and alcohol.
Senior Canterbury officials, including coach Des Hasler, have been encouraging Barba for some time to seek professional help but teammates say they were shocked when informed on Monday that Barba had been suspended indefinitely.
Five-eighth Josh Reynolds, who is close to re-signing with the club, said he was a close friend of Barba's but had no idea that the star fullback was struggling off the field.
"I didn't have a clue," Reynolds told reporters at the launch of the NSW Cup. "Everyone was a little shocked. It just jumped up on us. We're going to support Benny every step of the way and let the professionals deal with him.
"We just want him to come back and be sweet as a person. Everyone just wants him to get better. I'm sure he'll head in the right direction now."
NSW coach Laurie Daley, who had charge of the Indigenous team that Barba starred for just over two weeks ago, said he had seen anything to indicate Barba was troubled.
"I only really saw him at training but he was as good as gold," Daley said. "He was laughing and jumping around. There was certainly nothing there to suggest he was out of control."
Reynolds said he was surprised by suggestions that Barba has struggled to cope with fame generated by his breakout 2012 season , saying: "Last year he was the face of everything and he didn't change as a person. If anything he got better and worked harder on his game."
Sydney Morning Herald