Ben Barba

Banned NRL player Ben Barba made his return to rugby league on the weekend while the NRL were unable to intervene.

The 31-year-old was banned by the league and sacked by North Queensland last year following domestic violence allegations.

Barba was banned from taking part in specific tournaments and leagues across the country, but was able to feature in the National Indigenous Rugby League Championships alongside Cronulla stars Andrew Fifita and Jesse Ramien and Titans pair Brian Kelly and Tyrone Peachey.

Speaking to The Daily Telegraph, NRL boss Andrew Abdo said he was not made aware of Barba’s feature in the tournament.

“It’s independently organised,” he said.

“It’s not funded or sanctioned by the NRL so we have no jurisdiction over it. Anyone is free to play.

“In future years we might be able to work more collaboratively with them.

“The Barba situation isn’t ideal. If we’re going to work together in the future, it would be helpful (if they respected our rules). We didn’t know he was playing.”

According to The Telegraph, Barba and his brother, Marmin, flew to Dubbo to play for Walgett in the tournament.

The tournament’s director Matt Rose said Barba hadn’t lost his touch.

“I can’t believe how classy he still is,” Rose said.

“He was brilliant. The fact he hasn’t played for so long it’s amazing.

“When you think about it, it’s quite sad that he’s no longer in the NRL.”