RUGBY LEAGUE: French outfit Catalans have made inquiries around troubled talent Ben Barba but any Super League club offering him a rugby league lifeline would still see him sidelined for the first three months of any deal.
It's understood the Dragons have contacted Barba's manager Chris Orr over the weekend as a sensational axing from a lucrative $2.5 million, two-and-a-half year contract with rugby giants Toulon looms.
Catalans have been known to take a punt on the game's most colourful characters, signing controversial NRL names Greg Bird, Todd Carney and David Taylor in recent years, though the latter pair were both moved on with coach Laurent Frayssinous at the time making cryptic comments around future recruitment being based "on behaviour".
As recently as last week Barba and his family visited Catalans expats Bird, Justin Horo and Krisnan Inu in Perpignan, where the Dragons are based.
Just as any NRL return would require Barba serving his three-month ban for cocaine use before he sees game time, the RFL told English reporters over the weekend that the Super League would also enforce his 12-match suspension.
Should Barba land a Super League contract and sit out three months of the competition, it could make him a more attractive proposition for an NRL club in the market for 2018.
He would still have to front the NRL's Integrity Unit before a contract is registered, but would be free to play from the outset.
What's believed to be a notional value of $600,000 has been placed on Barba by League Central based on his previous deal with the Sharks.
That price tag, along with Barba's off-field issues, has seen a number of clubs bork at the 2012 Dally M Medallist, with the Cowboys joining Cronulla in ruling themselves out of contention over the weekend.
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