No home for Ben at Cow­boys

The Sunday Telegraph (Sydney) - - NRL - PETER BADEL

THE Cow­boys have ruled out sign­ing Ben Barba af­ter yes­ter­day re­buff­ing plans for the for­mer Dally M medal­list to fin­ish his NRL ca­reer at North Queensland.

The Sun­day Tele­graph can re­veal five clubs — three in the NRL and two from the English Su­per League — have con­tacted Barba’s man­age­ment in the past 24 hours to in­quire about his price tag.

Barba is ex­pected to for­mally sever ties with French rugby out­fit Toulon next Mon­day and his pref­er­ence is to res­ur­rect his NRL ca­reer at his home­town club, the Cow­boys.

Born in Mackay, Barba has fam­ily ties to north Queensland, prompt­ing his man­age­ment to con­tact the Cow­boys to ex­plore the prospect of an NRL life­line.

Cow­boys cham­pion Johnathan Thurston is ex­pected to re­tire at the end of next year. Barba was of­fered to the Cow­boys as a full­back op­tion in a sce­nario that would see Lach­lan Coote pos­si­bly part­ner Michael Mor­gan at the scrum­base in the post-Thurston era.

Cow­boys coach Paul Green was yes­ter­day in­formed of Barba’s in­ter­est in join­ing the club, but North Queensland power­bro­kers in­sist they can­not af­ford the 27-year-old.

“I’ve had an ap­proach ask­ing if we would be in­ter­ested in sign­ing Ben Barba,” Cow­boys re­cruit­ment chief Peter Parr said. “Re­spect­fully, we don’t have room in our salary cap.

“Ben is clearly a ta­lented player of NRL qual­ity, but we’ve got Lach­lan Coote un­der con­tract and we can’t be hap­pier with his form and the way he has fit­ted into our club.

“The Cow­boys won’t be sign­ing Ben Barba.”

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