Former Cronulla star Ben Barba has accused the NRL of double standards over his treatment following a second illicit drug test, but says he’s ready to move on from rugby league.
Barba, 27, admits anxiousness over his move to French rugby club Toulon, but says too many unknowns about his future pushed him away from the NRL.
The rugby union convert says unlike him, NRL players who have been in a similar position have been allowed to train with their clubs.
“I didn’t know what was going on,” Barba told Fox Sports.
“I didn’t know when I was allowed to go back to training, when my contract was going to be registered, when I was allowed to actually join the team and ball work.
“It was just confusing because there were a few other guys who got the same thing and were allowed to join in on all the training.
“I just had to ask the question why I was different.”
Coach Shane Flanagan previously advocated for Barba to join Sharks training while banned, saying it would have been beneficial for his rehabilitation.
After Barba was hit with a 12-game drugs ban last November, he was released from his deal with the Sharks, only to re-sign on a one-year contract two months later.
But when the NRL delayed ratifying his deal, which would have allowed him to begin serving his time, he began to investigate other options.
Barba, the 2012 Dally M medallist, said he would look back on his NRL career with mixed emotions.
“Obviously, I would have liked it to run a bit more smoothly than my career did go,” he said.
“I won two pretty special awards in the game. If I leave and don’t come back, I’d be happy with how everything went. I’m ready to move on.”
The premiership-winning fullback said he had played rugby union in his youth but is aware he is no guarantee to get on the field for Top 14 heavyweights Toulon.
“I’ve spoken to a lot of people about how good the side is over there, I might not be able to crack the side, it’s star-studded,” Barba said.