You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

Sharks digesting Barba release

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 8/11/2016 Darren Walton
Ben Barba © Getty Images Ben Barba

Cronulla boss Lyall Gorman says the Sharks must regroup from the shock loss of star fullback Ben Barba before pondering any possible reinforcements.

Barba may have played his last NRL game after being released - at his request - by the Sharks to seek rehabilitation in Thailand following his second positive test to cocaine in less than two years.

The premiers are well served for fullbacks, with 21-year-old rep stars Jack Bird and Valentine Holmes both natural custodians and itching for another crack at the role.

Despite the former Dally M Medallist's scintillating form this season, the loss of Barba might even prove a blessing for the Sharks, who now have an unexpected $800,000 a year to spend on retaining their grand final roster beyond 2017.

In any case, Gorman says Barba's welfare and that of his wife and four young daughters - and not the side's title defence or recruitment program - remain the club's immediate concern.

"Our goal is not about football at the moment. Our goal is about helping the young man to come back into the community the way he wants to come back," Gorman said.

"We haven't crossed that bridge at all, in terms of Benny not being with us, another player coming into the role, picking up another player. They're all options that remain on the table.

"But the first thing is to help Benny get back to where he needs to be and wants to be."

The Sharks will await coach Shane Flanagan's return from a fact-findng tour of England and the US before weighing up their options.

"We'll address that matter over time. It hasn't entered our heads just now. First of all we've got to come to grips with where we're at with Ben and where we're heading as a club in regards to supporting him," Gorman said.

The self-confessed distressed chief executive said the Sharks' 2017 premiership defence hadn't been spoken of in recent weeks.

"There was a period of celebration. The boys are on annual leave," he said.

"We'll regroup. Fourteen of our NRL players came back last Friday, the rest come back on staggered time.

"We've got boys overseas with both New Zealand and the Australian teams.

"We'll sit down as a playing group as we have done over the years. We're a resilient club, a strong club and a proud club and these things, while they're short-term setbacks, won't put us back."

Apart from uncertainty surrounding Barba's future, Cronulla's other grand final try-scorer Andrew Fifita has also threatened to walk away from the NRL since the Sharks' drought-breaking triumph.

Gorman, though, insists the tearaway front-rower has assured the club he will be with the Sharks in 2017 and is not considering any other playing options.

image beaconimage beaconimage beacon