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Greenberg satisfied with Barba action
Ian McCullough
21:00 AEST Tue Feb 26 2013

Canterbury chief executive Todd Greenberg says news of Ben Barba's off-field problems will not affect the NRL club's relationship with sponsors.

The Bulldogs stood Barba down indefinitely after he admitted to Greenberg and coach Des Hasler on Sunday he was struggling to cope with issues away from the field.

However, Greenberg dismissed the prospect of sponsors walking away because of Barba.

"This is not a club in crisis, let's be real and let's be honest," Greenberg said ahead of the Bulldogs' season launch on Tuesday night.

"We have a player who is going through a hard time and we are supporting him.

"I have no concerns at all. If anything the message from our sponsors has been `thank you for standing up for the club, the brand and the player's welfare.'"

Barba's issues relate to the breakdown of his relationship with long-term partner Ainslie Currie and access to his two young children.

Currie was driving back to Mackay on Tuesday from Sydney to be with her family while Barba dealt with lawyers, in what's turning into a potentially ugly custody battle.

Currie is also expected to release a statement denying rumours about her relationship with Barba.

Canterbury five-eighth Josh Reynolds said earlier on Tuesday he was shocked by news of Barba's problems and said it was important to give him the time away from the game to sort himself out.

"Footy is nothing when it comes to stuff like this. We just want him to be sweet," Reynolds said.

"I haven't spoke to him, I'd love to. Everyone is asking when is he going to be back, but it doesn't matter. He needs to be right."

While the decision to give Barba time away from the game is the correct one, it does leaves Hasler with a huge hole to fill.

The brilliant fullback was the runaway winner of the Dally M Medal last year and the key figure in his side's minor premiership success and grand final appearance.

Hasler's side will open their 2013 campaign against North Queensland in Gosford next Saturday without Barba, who it is believed could miss the first two months of the season.

Barba has scored a whopping 60 tries in 72 appearances since 2010 and is the focal point of the Bulldogs' attack.

With South Sydney, Sydney Roosters, Melbourne and Manly among their other opponents in the opening six rounds his absence could be sorely felt.

But former captain Andrew Ryan believes Hasler will work out a system to accommodate for the loss of Barba as well as prop James Graham, who is suspended for the opening 10 rounds for biting Billy Slater in the grand final.

"Des is a great coach and there is plenty of options there," he said.

"Krisnan Inu has played a lot at fullback for Parra and New Zealand, Mitch Brown can play there and there is young Drury Low who they've signed from Canberra.

"Ben will be a loss, but there are options. Once he's sorted out his issues I am sure he'll be back and will be out there doing what he does best."

Ryan, who was Barba's captain when he made his debut in 2008 said he'd never seen any signs of trouble, but claimed the pressures on young players is often too hard for them to deal with.

"You get young blokes from the country and a long way from home and they're in the spotlight in Sydney and it can be hard for them," said Ryan, who retired in 2011.

"There are a lot of temptations, but I can honestly say I've never seen anything from Ben for me to think he was going off the rails in my time at the club."