NOT for one minute do I blame Ben Barba, but what has become his circus parade should have passed by long before now.
For what is fundamentally a player welfare issue, this drama has been cooking for all of 2013 and to most has become a total bore.
Rumours aside, the general public has little knowledge of the personal issues confronting the 24-year-old reigning Dally M medallist, and nor should we. But what we do know as fact is worthy of our compassion.
His ex-partner, the mother of his two little girls, is heading to Brisbane to live and the kids will be moving with her. And Barba, still contracted to the Bulldogs until the end of 2015, has made it abundantly clear he will be moving north too.
So the intracies of the issue should now be between the Bulldogs and the Broncos, the club he apparently wants to join. And it seems both clubs seem to be heading towards an almost amicable arrangement - which means a sizeable release fee to the 'Dogs for the services of Barba for 2014 and 2015, the years that remain on his current contract.
That, it would seem, is fair enough. While the Broncos have seemingly not pursued Barba, there is little doubt they will score themselves a very handy player - a genius maybe, if he can consistently reproduce the form of 2011.
But late last week, all of a sudden the proverbial hit the fan. Not only are the Bulldogs seeking a release fee, but will apparently also stipulate that Barba not play against them for the next two seasons.
And if that wasn't a big enough curve ball, another was delivered by Barba's management team last week. It seems Ben's wellbeing does not just involve being near his daughters, but an additional $650,000 a season would also help lessen the burden of moving, thanks very much.
What an appalling chapter in such a sad story. To ask that kind of money, over and above the apparent $350,000 a season he is currently paid, is not only ridiculous, but smells of expediency.
Surely, if this is a matter of his welfare and the wellbeing of his children, Barba would be happy to switch clubs, not take a pay cut and get on with life. Milking his family situation for all he can get, surely, is not honourable behaviour.
And the Broncos would be crazy agreeing to Barba not playing against the 'Dogs for the next two seasons. Ask any player the game they look forward to most each year, and usually it is the one against a former team. And vice versa.
Besides, imagine a grand final clash between the two teams, and no Ben Barba. It's a ridiculous notion.
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