Rugby League player Ben Barba has used up his last chance to win The Frownlow Medal after being sacked by the North Queensland Cowboys for alleged domestic violence.
The former Dally M medallist is accused of assaulting his partner, and the mother of his children, and looks likely to have destroyed his chances of playing again in the NRL.
The Frownlow Medal is awarded to the player whose off-field demeanour epitomises the values of the modern-day footballer and draws attention to the status of footballers as role models to young Australians. It covers Australia’s four major football codes; the National Rugby League (NRL), Australian Football League (AFL), the A-League (Football) and Rugby Union’s Super Rugby competition. NRL player Shaun Kenny-Dowall won the inaugural medal in 2015 and code-swapper Karmichael Hunt was the most recent recipient.
If Barba is not contracted to any club from Australia’s major football codes, he is not eligible for The Frownlow Medal, and with very little chance of earning another contract, Barba better hope they he wins the Frownlow this year.
Winning the prestigious award will not be easy, though. Already in 2019, six other Rugby League players have been involved in incidents concerning violence against women and have earned Frownlow nominations. Jarryd Hayne, Dylan Walker, Scott Bolton, Jack de Belin, Zane Musgrove and rookie Liam Coleman have all made the headlines for the wrong reasons in recent months.
In Barba’s favour is his previous Frownlow nomination. In 2017, he was kicked out of the NRL for testing positive to illicit drugs for the second time and flew to England to join so many other Frownlow nominees.
Barba will soon head to court to learn his fate on the charges levelled against him, and will have to wait until the end of the year to learn if he has done enough to win The Frownlow Medal.