Dally M Medalist Ben Barba is likely to miss Canterbury’s season opener against North Queensland - and potentially the entire NRL season - as he seeks ‘‘professional help’’ to deal with a number of off-field issues.
At a press conference on Monday, Bulldogs chief executive Todd Greenberg declined to reveal details of what had happened to provoke the suspension.
However, he said the player needed to address his problems and the club was doing what it could to assist him.
It has been reported that Barba recently separated from his partner Ainslie Currie, with whom he has two children.
Greenberg said there was no indication when Barba may next be seen on the football field.
‘‘Ben Barba is ill and he needs help,’’ said Greenberg, who added the youngster was dealing with numerous personal issues and had breached the club’s code of conduct, although it was not a police matter.
‘‘It could be six weeks, it could be six months.
‘‘Ben’s at a point where I think football is the furthest thing from his mind.
‘‘Whilst we all know the undoubted on-field attributes and abilities that Ben displays, we must always maintain our focus on the more important issues of personal development and accountability.’’
Barba was a sensation last year and in electrifying form when scoring a hat-trick for the Indigenous All Stars against the NRL All Stars in Brisbane earlier this month.
The fullback will no longer appear at Wednesday’s NRL season launch in Sydney, where he was scheduled to officially launch the 2013 season.
In the press release, Barba said; “I feel it is best to deal with these problems front on and I believe that by doing so this will make me a better person and player in the future. Today is a very difficult day for me as I feel I’ve let my family, children, club and supporters down.
“My issues relate to seeking help for personal issues that I face day to day.
“I’m incredibly sad to be stepping aside as I’ve been so blessed with what’s happened to me over the past few years, but I feel as though I would be wearing a mask if I didn’t confront the matters I’ve been dealing with until now.
“I feel it is best to deal with these problems front on and I believe that by doing so this will make me a better person and player in the future.
“This will be a step by step process for me and whilst I hope to return to football soon, I hope that through this next period you can respect my privacy so that sooner rather than later I can return to playing rugby league as best I can.
“When I do, I hope that everybody sees a better person.”