The Canterbury Bulldogs have stood down star full-back Ben Barba indefinitely.
I feel as though I would be wearing a mask if I didn't confront the matters I've been dealing with until now.
Bulldogs chief executive Todd Greenberg said Barba has breached the club's code of conduct as a result of his off-field behaviour and has numerous personal issues to resolve.
It is understood Barba has had difficulty dealing with the breakdown in his relationship with his long-term girlfriend.
Greenberg indicated Barba's problems involve alcohol and gambling but said there are a multitude of issues.
Ben Barba: 2012 in statsClub:
22 (88 points)Win/loss:
Dally M Player of the Year
Dally M Full-back of the Year
RLPA Player of the Year
He added that the breaches of conduct are not legal matters but emphasized Barba needs the club's help to get his life back on track.
"Ben needs help," Greenberg told reporters on Monday.
"Ben needs professional help and we came to a decision to move him out of the spotlight and out of football.
"He is dealing with numerous issues. He's had a life changing experience with the breakdown of a relationship he has had since he was a boy."
The 2012 Dally M player of the year was going to be the face of the NRL's season launch on Wednesday night but will now not be taking part.
Barba has accepted the club's decision and said he has let many people down.
"Today is a very difficult day for me as I feel I've let my family, children, club and supporters down," Barba said in a statement.
Ben needs professional help and we came to a decision to move him out of the spotlight and out of football.
Bulldogs chief executive Todd Greenberg
"My issues relate to seeking help for personal issues that I face day to day.
"I'm incredibly sad to be stepping aside as I've been so blessed with what's happened to me over the past few years, but I feel as though I would be wearing a mask if I didn't confront the matters I've been dealing with until now."
Barba followed up his outstanding 2012 season with a man of the match performance for the Indigenous All Stars earlier this month.
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He was expected to make his State of Origin debut for Queensland this year.
Barba's manager Gavin Orr is hopeful the Bulldogs star will not miss much of the 2013 NRL season.
As is Barba himself.
"This will be a step by step process for me and whilst I hope to return to football soon, I hope that through this next period you can respect my privacy so that sooner rather than later I can return to playing rugby league as best I can," Barba said.
"When I do, I hope that everybody sees a better person."
No quick fix
Greenberg said it is unclear how long Barba may be away from the game.
"It could be six weeks or it could be six months," Greenberg said.
"He won't be playing when we open the season. We are disappointed in that but we have to look after his welfare first."
Greenberg said the seriousness of Barba's problems became apparent to him on the weekend.
He said the easy way out would have been for the Bulldogs to terminate Barba's contract but the club has elected to work with their young star for as long as it takes.
NRL chief executive David Smith said he is fully supportive of the actions taken by the Bulldogs.
"The club has kept the NRL fully briefed on the matter and it is clear that this is a case of everyone wanting to put Ben’s interests first," Smith said.
"This appears to be a challenging set of circumstances for a young man in the public spotlight and it is a time for us all to give him and the club some room to find the best way forward."