Sharks coach Shane Flanagan open to Ben Barba return

Cronulla appears to be keeping the door open for Ben Barba, should the former star wish to return to the NRL.

There are reports he is seeking an early release from the final year of his contract with English Super League side St Helens in order to return to Australia to be with his family.

However, the club’s Chairman Eamonn McManus has slammed the reports and insists his fullback is committed to seeing out the final year of his deal.


Barba was sacked by the Sharks after returning a second positive drugs test following the club’s 2016 premiership win celebrations.

But coach Shane Flanagan admits they have room in their side should Barba wish to return to the NRL.

“He’s a premiership-winning player for this club and if he wants to come back to Australia, we’ll look at it,” Flanagan said.

“We’ve lost Ricky Leutele, he’s off to the Toronto Wolfpack next year and Jesse (Ramien) is off to Newcastle.

“(Josh Dugan) is quite happy to play in the centres, at the moment he’s playing fullback.

“We’ll weigh up all of those things in due time. We’ve got to concentrate on the present at the moment.”