St Helens hope to expedite Ben Barba's rugby league return after the English Super League club confirmed it would appeal his 12-game cocaine ban.

The former NRL star arrived at the club last week to start a two-and-a-half year deal signed in May following his release by French rugby union club Toulon.

The former Cronulla fullback copped the illicit drug ban after testing positive following the Sharks' grand final victory last season, prompting him to head overseas.

St Helens sit sixth on the ladder with five regular-season matches remaining.


If Barba serves the full suspension, he'll miss those games - given he's already sat out four games - as well as the first three fixtures of the Super 8s if the Saints make the finals.

With the possibility Barba won't get on the field this season, St Helens chairman Eamonn McManus confirmed the club will appeal.

The NRL and England's governing body Rugby Football League (RFL) have reciprocal acknowledgement of bans, but St Helens believe there are grounds to overturn it.

"We are appealing against the decision of the RFL to transfer the twelve-game ban to Super League," McManus told English newspaper League Express.

"The NRL itself stated that he would serve twelve matches when he returns to the NRL. That was formally stated by them."

"Most importantly, if that offence had been committed in this country, then there would have been no ban.

"For out-of-season illicit non-performance-enhancing drugs, there is no ban." Barba, who won the Dally M award in 2012 as the NRL's best player, is set to miss the rest of sixth-placed St Helens' season.

"I've still got to work hard at the moment. I've got a bit of a suspension that's hanging around at the moment that I'm not sure what's going on," Barba told the club's website.