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Ben Barba has been released from his Cronulla contract.

The NRL said today that Ben Barba's 12-match ban will not begin until he has completed any overseas sporting commitments.

CEO Todd Greenberg said the NRL believed a suspended player should serve time out from playing – anywhere.

"Ben does not have a registered contract with the NRL so he is free to make a decision to play in a different code with a new club," Mr Greenberg said.

"But the NRL will not consider any contract for registration until he has completed his contract with other sports.

"The match suspension he needs to serve will only begin after he has completed his playing commitments elsewhere."

Mr Greenberg said his primary concern was whether appropriate action was being taken to improve Barba's life off the field.

"We have been working closely with the Sharks on ensuring he has access to appropriate courses and programs as part of his rehabilitation," Mr Greenberg said.

"We have just given him approval to train individually at the club and be part of the Shark's community programs.

"That agreement meant he also had access to the club's welfare and education support services.

"If that commitment has changed then it will be taken into account when we consider whether his contract should be registered."