French rugby giants Toulon have announced that banned NRL premiership-winning fullback Ben Barba will switch codes and play for them for the rest of the Top 14 season.
"Ben Barba will arrive in Toulon next week," read a statement on Toulon's website on Tuesday night.
Only two weeks ago, Cronulla re-signed Barba two months after his contract was terminated by the Sharks following a positive test to cocaine.
The 27-year-old was hit with a 12-match ban in November as a result of the second positive sample he returned under the NRL's illicit drug policy.
Barba penned a one-year contract for the 2017 season but the deal is yet to be ratified by the NRL.The shock signing with Toulon while Barba is serving his punishment will no doubt be scrutinised by the NRL Integrity Unit as they assess his suitability to return to rugby league in Australia.
If indeed he's cleared to come back, Barba would be available for the Sharks in mid-May.
He's already been ruled out of the World Club Series, the Auckland Nines and the first 10 rounds after failing the illicit drug test taken during celebrations of the club's first premiership victory.
Three-time European Cup champions Toulon currently sit fifth on the Top 14 table and last weekend's 23-20 home defeat to La Rochelle reportedly left club president Mourad Boudjellal fuming.
It's believed he cancelled holiday plans the players had during the break in their domestic competition for the start of the Six Nations and ordered them back to training.
Toulon said Barba will be considered for their next match at home against Lyon on February 18 and they have nine regular-season games remaining as well as having already qualified for the quarter-finals of the European Champions Cup.
Their last regular-season clash is against Pau on May 6, but they'll be well backed to make a run deep into the finals which culminate with the Top 14 decider on June 4.Barba will join fellow Australians Matt Giteau, Drew Mitchell, James O'Connor and Liam Gill at Toulon.
Toulon expect Barba to vie for the fullback jersey but added that he can cover across nearly every other backline position.