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Sharks have moved on from Barba: Flanagan

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 10/05/2017

Cronulla have all but ruled out making a play to bring premiership-winning fullback Ben Barba back to the Shire.

Barba is set to part ways with French rugby club Toulon but Sharks coach Shane Flanagan said they saw Valentine Holmes as their long-term No.1.

The Sharks have also been linked with off-contract St George Illawarra No.1 Josh Dugan but Flanagan declined to comment on recruitment.

Barba could be on his way back to the NRL this season after being told he is surplus to requirements at Toulon.

Toulon's season ends in just a few weeks and that means Barba, who was exiled from the NRL after testing positive for cocaine after Cronulla's 2016 grand final win, could be set for a return.

Barba was signed until the end of 2019 by Mike Ford but the ex-Bath coach was sacked last month.

Toulon's multi-millionaire boss Mourad Boudjellal told local press Barba did not fit in with the plans of new coach Fabien Galthie.

"He's Mike Ford's player," Boudjellal said after the club's final regular season game, listing Barba among a group of departing stars including ex-Wallabies Matt Giteau and Drew Mitchell.

Barba would still have to serve the 12-match NRL suspension that he received for a second strike under the NRL's illicit-drug policy.

Cronulla axed Barba for the positive test and it is unclear which NRL club's might be willing to take a chance on the talented back given the recent dramas the game has had with players, football staff and cocaine.

It is understood that Barba will need to front the NRL integrity unit to explain his previous actions and set a clear path for his rehabilitation before a contract with an NRL club is approved.

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