Canterbury star Ben Barba has been suspended to allow him to deal with “behavioural issues”, the club has announced.
Barba, who was the NRL‘s player of the year in 2012, is understood to be struggling following a break-up from his long term partner.
The Bulldogs issued a statement on Monday confirming full-back Barba had been stood down from all contractual duties.
It means that the 23-year-old will not take part in the NRL season launch this week and could be out of the game for up to six months.
“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,” Bulldogs chief executive 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 apologised to his fans and his family in a statement.
“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,” Barba said.
“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.”