Jamal Idris and Le Te Maari take on a legend.

Former NRL players Jamal Idris and Lee Te Maari believe you have to beat a legend to be a legend, so they took on Frownlow medallist Ben Barba in a fist fight to earn a nomination for The Frownlow 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.

Idris, Te Maari and Barba were all playing for the Canterbury Bulldogs in 2009 and had been socialising at a teammate’s house all afternoon. They were driving home together and decided to stop off at the Wentworthville Hotel in Sydney’s west to buy some drinks. They then realised that drinking drinks is better than just buying drinks, and stepped inside for a few coldies. When they stepped outside, Barba slammed Te Maari up against a wall and Idris stepped in.

This is where it gets interesting.

Barba is short, and fast, like most top fullbacks. Te Maari was a backrower and Idris was one of the biggest players in the game at the time. But still Barba took them on, because that’s the definition of Dutch Courage and that’s the kind of decision making that wins a player The Frownlow Medal.

The scuffle escalated and Idris ended up punching Barba in the face, leaving the young star with a bloody nose. As with any true footballing bromance, the players soon kissed and made up, and it was later revealed that Barba had been niggling and annoying Idris and Te Maari all afternoon.

Young guns Idris and Barba were dropped for one game. In a bizarre addition to his post-NRL story, Idris was the victim of an attempted kidnap while on holiday in Vietnam. Perhaps the kidnappers had been drinking what Barba was drinking.

Meanwhile, the more experienced Te Maari was suspended for two games as a result of the Wentworthville incident, which was not his first. He got into a fight outside a nightclub in Wollongong in 2008, and in 2010 was charged with numerous driving offences, including driving without a license. The backrower didn’t tell the club about his offence until it appeared in court, and the Bulldogs eventually tore up his contract.

Ironically, Barba and Idris were scheduled to attend an Arrive Alive promotion just days after the fight, where they would function as role models for junior rugby league players in western Sydney.

Referring to the incident and to the respective punishments, a Bulldogs official said at the time:

“Ben and Jamal are young players with big careers ahead of them and I hope this punishment will serve as a warning to them on what they stand to lose if they continue down the wrong path.
Lee is acutely aware of his responsibilities and I don’t expect to see him in front of the disciplinary committee again.”

Barba did continue down the wrong path, and despite winning the Dally M medal and a premiership, what lay head for him was a Frownlow medal and a nomination for The Frownlow Medal Hall of Fame.

Te Maari also faced the disciplinary committee again.

Barba is expected to take on Idris and Te Maari again in a lopsided tag-team fight at the awards night for The Frownlow Medal and The Frownlow Medal Hall of Fame later this year.

Image: NuNa

Ben Barba is a great ambassador.

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.

Image: NuNa

Ben Barba wins The Frownlow Medal for 2019.

Former NRL player Ben Barba has won The Frownlow Medal for 2019 after being kicked out of the NRL for the second time in his career.

The 2012 Dally M Medallist lost his contract earlier this year after being charged with public nuisance, and was first banished from the NRL for the use of cocaine.

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.

Barba was caught on security cameras during the pre-season in a heated argument with his partner, and the mother of his children, at a venue in Townsville. The North Queensland Cowboys tore up his contract and he was banned indefinitely from the game in Australia. The flying fullback earned his first Frownlow nomination in 2016 when he was caught with cocaine just moments after his heroic role in Cronulla’s first ever premiership win.

Barba beat the strongest field ever in Frownlow history, including fellow Cowboy Scott Bolton. Bolton pleaded guilty to common assault of a woman and served a lengthy suspension from the NRL. This was one of many incidents of violence against women in 2019.

Zane Musgrove was kicked out of the NRL for the second charge of violence against women during his career, while rookie Liam Coleman was charged for the same reason.

Dylan Walker was a strong contender before his partner dropped charges of domestic violence against him, and he was found not guilty, while Jarryd Hayne and Jack De Belin are still involved in legal cases for alleged sexual assault.

Rugby League players clearly dominated the awards yet again this year. In fact, Barba’s victory means that every medallist has played in the NRL, including code-swapper Karmichael Hunt.

Manase Fainu earned his nomination after being charged with stabbing a man outside a church dance. Many parents are now wondering whether it is safer to let their children play Rugby League than go to a church dance. Fainu will also have to wait until 2020 to learn his fate before the justice system.

Australia’s most famous homophobe, former Rugby Union player Israel Folau, created the most controversy this year with his divisive social media posts, but his actions were simply not enough in comparison to accusations of violence against women.

Jaidyn Stephenson flew the flag for the AFL. He had himself banned for 10 games for illegal gambling, but the challenge from Aussie Rules was fairly weak this year.

The A-League is a perennial poor performer in The Frownlow Medal, but bolstered its representation when four young players were simultaneously investigated for…you guessed it…group sex. After all, footballers can hardly be expected to enjoy the company of a woman all by themselves.

A number of Rugby League players were nominated for sex tapes, adding some spice to the competition yet again.

Even the Australian Rugby League captain earned a nomination. Greg Inglis was caught drink driving and was fined and stripped of the honour of captaining his country. He then retired from the sport after an injury-plagued career.

Barba and his fellow nominees will be resting sore heads in 2020, after the famous Frownlow awards night. Meanwhile, we anticipate another year of off-field drama in 2020.

Happy New Year Ben.

Image: NuNa

Jack de Belin vs. Jarryd Hayne. The showdown for The Frownlow Medal.

Jarryd Hayne and Jack de Belin could fight out The Frownlow Medal in 2019 after both being charged with alleged sexual assault.

The two high-profile Rugby League players are currently leading the race for the most prestigious award in Australian sport, ahead of part-time porn stars, nudists, drunks, thugs, drug addicts, bigots, gamblers, drink drivers and taxi slappers.

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.

Standing in the way of Hayne and de Belin winning the award are their lengthy court cases, and a long list of fellow footballers putting their hand up for the prize. The legal proceedings which will determine the players’ innocence or guilt may not be finished by the time The Frownlow Medal is announced later this year, which throws the competition wide open.

Every winner of The Frownlow Medal so far has played Rugby League, and NRL players dominate the nominations again this year.

Scott Bolton and former Cowboys teammate Ben Barba are in contention, while Zane Musgrove and Liam Coleman still have a chance, despite being kicked out of the NRL. Dylan Walker was nominated for allegedly assaulting his partner, but was not found guilty, ruling him out of the race.

NRL players got nude this year, appearing on the front page of newspapers, on social media and all over the internet, in a desperate bid to be noticed. Some played Slap the Taxi and an entire club, the Cronulla Sharks, got themselves banned from a local venue due to the behaviour of some of their players.

AFL player Jaidyn Stephenson poses the biggest threat to NRL dominance, as he has earned the longest suspension from the game, serving 10 games on the sideline after being found guilty of betting on AFL games. AFL colleague Majak Daw provided the most bizarre incident when his body was found beside the Yarra River.

Israel Folau could follow fellow code-hopper Karmichael Hunt and take out The Frownlow Medal, after refusing to remove a homophobic post from social media and losing his contract with Rugby Australia. A host of fellow footballers, including AFL player Gary Ablett Jr. earned Frownlow nominations for ‘liking’ his posts.

The A-League continued its poor showing in The Frownlow Medal, with only Ken Ilso nominated for testing positive to a banned substance.

As the winter codes near the business end of their respective seasons, the race is well and truly on for The Frownlow Medal.

Image: NuNa