NRL star Ben Barba released from Cronulla Sharks

Ben Barba (Getty file)
Ben Barba (Getty file)

Cronulla Sharks fullback Ben Barba failed a test for cocaine just a few days after his side won their maiden NRL premiership.

In a statement, the Sharks have confirmed that the two parties have agreed an immediate release of Barba's playing contract.

"While this decision has not been easy for either party there is full agreement that it is one made in the best interests of Ben, his young family and our Club," the statement read.

"Consistent with our Club’s major focus on the welfare of its players, the Club is fully supportive of this decision and will assist in any way possible to allow Ben the time needed to address his life away from the pressure environment of professional sport.   "Although Ben has had a very successful season on the field culminating in being a major part of a winning Grand Final team, it is his life away from the field which he now seeks assistance with.     "Both the Club, Ben and his team mates hope that at some stage in the future he will be able to return to the game he loves but that is not the priority at the moment." The 27-year-old is heading to Thailand this week for rehabilitation treatment.

It is the second time the troubled Barba has tested positive for recreational drugs.

"I know and accept I need to take some time away from the game to deal with some personal issues," Barba said.

"I am accountable for myself and my actions and if I don’t address them now I will certainly ruin my career and more importantly my life and that of my family. As footballers we often find it hard to speak up about having problems, but this decision has lifted so much pressure off myself that I cannot start to explain just how much better I feel by taking this action. "I hope to return to the game at some stage and am very grateful for the support of the Cronulla Sharks and I hope that one day I can again play beside this terrific bunch of guys.  I have made some tremendous friendships both within the playing ranks and throughout the coaching and administration teams.  This has made it all the more difficult to make this decision but it’s something I just had to do."

The NRL have announced that should Barba return to the Sharks or any other club, he will have to serve a 12 game suspension.

One of the best fullbacks in the game, Barba has experienced his fair share of addiction issues, taking a hiatus from the game in 2013 to spend time in rehab dealing with anger issues and a gambling addiction.

Newshub.