UPDATE: THE parents of troubled Bulldogs star Ben Barba will fly to Sydney from Mackay today to help their son deal with a series of issues including gambling and alcohol that yesterday saw him stood down indefinitely by the club.
His mother Kim sheeted home most of the problems to the breakdown of his relationship with long-time partner Ainslie Currie, the mother of their two children.
The 2012 Dally M player of the year was set to be the face of the NRL's season launch tomorrow night, but has been replaced by Cowboys captain Johnathan Thurston.
Bulldogs CEO Todd Greenberg yesterday said the star full-back would also be missing from the team's season-opener against the Cowboys on March 9, adding it was uncertain when he would return to the playing field.
"Ben Barba is ill and he needs help,"' Greenberg said.
"He won't be playing when we open the season. Ben's at a point where I think football is the furthest thing from his mind."
When pressed on when Barba would return, Greenberg said, "It could be six weeks or it could be six months".
"Ben needs professional help and we came to a decision to move him out of the spotlight and out of football," Greenberg said.
"He is dealing with numerous issues. He's had a life changing experience with the breakdown of a relationship he has had since he was a boy."
Barba, man of the match for the Indigenous All Stars earlier this month, issued a statement saying he felt as though he would be "wearing a mask" if he didn't confront the matters he has been dealing with."
"Today is a very difficult day for me as I feel I've let my family, children, club and supporters down," the statement said.
"My issues relate to seeking help for personal issues that I face day to day."
Greenberg said the club had been aware of the issues with their star playmaker for some time, but it had become apparent last weekend that drastic action was required.
He also said the easy way out for the club would have been to terminate Barba's contract, but added the Bulldogs had elected to get the best help possible for the 23-year-old to help him become "a better person ... and a better footballer".
Greenberg was reluctant to confirm all the issues Barba was dealing with, but said they involved breaches of the club's code of conduct and were not police matters.
Barba's manager Gavin Orr is hopeful the Bulldogs star will not miss much of the 2013 NRL season.
Think you are a top NRL tipster? Prove it! You could have a tip-top reason to big note yourself if you sign up for the QLD Jeep Dealers NRL Footy Tipping. Entry is FREE and easy.
Barba suspended from Bulldogs for 'behavioural problems'
BULLDOGS fullback and 2012 Dally M Medal winner Ben Barba has been suspended indefinitely by the club.
The decision to suspend Barba comes after the Bulldogs were informed of a number of behavioural issues, a club statement said.
"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," Chief Executive Officer Todd Greenberg said.
"It is our hope that the media and the many rugby league fans understand and respect the need for privacy in order for Ben and his family to make the relevant adjustments that are required for him to return to the playing field."
Barba was set to take part in the official NRL launch on Wednesday night.
The 23-year-old said he was "incredibly sad to be stepping aside" and was "seeking help for personal issues".
"Today is a very difficult day for me as I feel I've let my family, children, club and supporters down," Barba said in a statement.
"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."
Barba won the NRL's top player award after scoring 21 tries in the 2012 season helping the Bulldogs reach the Grand Final which they lost to the Melbourne Storm.
The Bulldogs open their season on March 9 against the Cowboys.