Ben Barba is so committed to his role as ambassador for The Frownlow Medal that he had himself thrown in jail for alleged assault. The 2019 medallist is accused of assaulting his brother-in-law recently and was nominated for The Fronwlow Medal Hall of Fame.
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, while AFL player Elijah Taylor is the most recent recipient.
The Frownlow Medal Hall of Fame honours former players and players who received media attention in previous seasons, for similarly scandalous behaviour, and its inductees include Ben Cousins and Julian O’Neill.
Barba was remanded in custody and will spend time in jail for the alleged assault after being refused bail in Mackay, Queensland. The 2012 Dally M medallist was earlier arrested for allegedly assaulting his partner, and the mother of his four children, with whom he separated six months ago. Barba was also accused of assaulting Currie in 2019, and this is one of the charges which cost him his contract with the North Queensland Cowboys, and his NRL career.
Barba talked about the prestige of winning The Frownlow Medal in 2019 and promised to do everything he could to honour the award and protect its reputation. He has done exactly that in the intervening years, including this latest incident.
The current charges against the former premiership winner include assault occasioning bodily harm, and he was refused bail because the judge decided he is at risk of reoffending.
The former NRL star has a long history of off-field incidents.
In 2009, he got into a drunken fight with Canterbury teammates Jamal Idris and Lee Te Maari in Wentowrthville and was dropped to reserve grade. Then in 2013 he was stood down by the Bulldogs for behavioural reasons and checked into rehab for gambling and alcohol problems. The same year, he was accused, and later cleared, of assaulting Currie.
After starring in the grand final win for the Sharks in 2016, he tested positive to cocaine and lost his contract, before heading to Thailand for rehab. He then signed with the Cowboys in 2019, only to lose the contract after being charged with assault yet again.
Barba will be a guest of honour at the Frownlow awards night later this year, and everyone has been told to keep their female partners well away from him.