Barba set to enter clinic to be assessed

Last updated 20:41 27/02/2013
Ben Barba
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BABY STEPS: Troubled NRL superstar Ben Barba will not make his comeback against Melbourne on Thursday.

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At a time when he was to have been presented to the rugby league world as the face of the NRL at Wednesday night's season launch, Ben Barba was instead preparing to enter a private clinic to have his gambling and drinking issues assessed.

Before he was stood down indefinitely by Canterbury on Monday Barba was to officially launch the new season at Sydney's Star Casino - a role handed on to Johnathan Thurston - and to feature as the star of this season's NRL advertising campaign.

Instead the Canterbury fullback's career is at the crossroads as medical experts plot a course of action that will get his life back on track and allow him to return to the rugby league field.

Barba is set to visit a private clinic this week to address the behavioural issues that have dogged him during the off season.

"The club has surrounded him with a team of medical professionals and he will be assessed at a clinic that deals with these sort of issues to work out the best way to help him overcome them," a source close to Barba told AAP.

"The club is doing what is best for Ben Barba, not just what is best for Canterbury.

"They want to make sure he is healed. They want to make sure he can put these problems well and truly behind him. They don't want them to haunt him. They are worried about the impact this has on the club but more importantly they are worried about the impact this is having on Ben Barba the person.

"Ben's family have really closed ranks around him now and along with the club they are working out what is best for him. He has asked people just to leave him and his family alone as he attempts to deal with what has gone wrong."

Canterbury have said the Dally M medallist will not play football again until his problems have been sorted out.

Barba's sublime skills still feature in the NRL's advertising campaign but he did not attend the season launch and will not play in the Bulldogs round one clash with North Queensland in Gosford on March 9.

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- AAP

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