Banned NRL league player Ben Barba has been welcomed with open arms by a football club.
Barba, a brilliant fullback who played for the Bulldogs, Broncos and Sharks, has played two games as a striker for the Mackay Rangers in Queensland.
Coach Andrew Susani said the club was unconcerned about Barba's past, which includes a public incident involving his partner which has led to a court date next month.
"From our point of view we are not interested in the past, we are interested in now," Susani told the Daily Mercury.
"Ben came to us and was really open about it all. He just wanted to be one of the players.
"He's an athlete and he loves competition and the game."
The 29-year-old Barba, who hails from Darwin, won the Dally M medal in 2012. The elite NRL player award has been won by league superstars such as Johnathan Thurston, Cooper Cronk and Cameron Smith - an indication of the regard Barba was held in as a player.
But his league career was left in tatters after he was investigated by Townsville police for assaulting his partner at a casino. He was sacked by the North Queensland Cowboys and banned by the NRL.
He is pleading not guilty to public nuisance offences, with his court case set for May.
Barba said this month: "As bad as the situation is, I've never felt so free that I can get on with my life without the pressure of footy.
"Hopefully I'm allowed to play locally eventually and I'll go from there."