Hasler to have the final say on whether Barba will leave early

Canterbury chief executive Raelene Castle says coach Des Hasler will probably have the final say on whether Ben Barba is granted an early release.
Nanjing Night Net

As revealed by Fairfax Media, Barba’s management lodged a written request for a release a fortnight ago to allow him to reunite with his family in Queensland.

The Dally M medallist’s partner, Ainslie Currie, is looking for properties somewhere between Brisbane and the Gold Coast with a view to settling closer to her family. Barba, the father of two young children, is hoping to repair his relationship with Currie and relocate with her.

In a statement released by the club, Barba said: “I’m really close to my daughters and working hard on my relationship. Their move to Brisbane would create a difficult situation for me to be in playing football in Sydney, which I hope people can understand.

“I thank the Bulldogs for their willingness to engage in discussions around releasing me from my contract and thank them for the support they have shown me throughout this process, and throughout my career with the Bulldogs.”

The situation is a delicate one for Bulldogs officials. They have helped Barba through a difficult period in his personal life and realise his happiness is the key to stability on and off the field. But they are wary of handing their best and most popular player to Brisbane, the club most likely to be the beneficiary should a compassionate release be granted.

Castle said Hasler, who has stood by the 24-year-old through the ups and downs of the past 18 months, could ultimately determine whether they enforce the remaining two years of his contract.

”Definitely, he probably has the lead opinion in this whole process,” she said. ”It’s important for him to be comfortable, whether it be a team with Ben or a team without Ben.”

The decision could ultimately come down to how they can replace the local junior. Attempts to poach NSW custodian Josh Dugan from the Dragons were unsuccessful, while the club has made no secret of its desire to attract Israel Folau back to the NRL.

Castle denied she was in negotiations with the Wallabies star or any other player. ”We are working through a process, he’s [Barba] obviously contracted to the club for two more years,” she said.

”We have to make sure that we’re comfortable, that we look after Ben to ensure he’s in a good space and that we consider all of our fans in this. It’s a process at its beginning, not at its end, and there’s more to go before we get an outcome.

”I don’t know what the end is going to look like. We want to get a resolution to ensure all the parties are happy and it takes as long as it takes.”

Several Bulldogs fans attacked Barba on Twitter over his desire to leave the club.

Barba bit back, adding a thumbs up symbol on a retweet: ”BiLLyBoiiiiii: @BenBarba03 hahaha yeah laugh u arrogant Lil prik.”

Barba also returned serve when he was compared with Dugan, who shifted to the Dragons after being axed by Canberra: ”No not at all I’m not the one frustrated here “@omz85: @BenBarba03 doing a josh Dugan are lol what’s wrong Benny fans getting too ya.”

Barba was subjected to vile references to his daughter, to which he responded: ”Big man you are writing about my kids u fool. Be a man and come see me.”

Should the Bulldogs relent but fail to nab Folau – or another big-name replacement – there is every chance Josh Morris will be considered for the role on a full-time basis.

While Hasler has named Sam Perrett in the No.1 jersey since Barba suffered an ankle injury against Parramatta, Morris has been the custodian. After being preferred in favour of Perrett, Krisnan Inu and Drury Lowe for the gig, Morris joked that no man says no to Hasler.

”I think everyone is too scared to say no to Des,” he said earlier this month. ”I said I would do whatever is best for the team and if, in the time being that means playing fullback, then that’s an added bonus because it’ll get me a lot fitter having to run those extra kilometres every game.”

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

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