Ben Barba has taken full responsibility for his positive cocaine test that has led to his move to French rugby.
Ben Barba has bid "au revoir" to the NRL, accepting full responsibility for his positive cocaine test which ultimately led to his exit to French rugby.
The former Dally M winner left the door ajar for a return to rugby league after on Thursday signing a two-and-a-half year deal with Top 14 powerhouse Toulon.
In a statement released through his manager, Barba said he was backed into a corner after his 12-game NRL ban left him unable to provide for his young family.
"In regard to the incident at the back end of last year, I take full responsibility for my actions," Barba said.
"I made a terrible mistake and I own it and will have to live it.
"I have four young daughters which will one day ask the question about how I won a grand final with my best mates at the Sharks and then made a poor choice which changed my life and my reputation forever, that is a hard conversation I am not looking forward to."
Barba thanked Cronulla and the rugby league community and hasn't ruled out returning to the game.
"It's a fresh start and hopefully a successful one, I wish my teammates at the Sharks all the very best for the 2017 season.
"'Au revoir' everyone, thanks for the memories and who knows I may return down the track you never say never."
Barba said he accepted the offer from French rugby because he had been given no indication as to when he could return.
After he was hit with a 12-game ban, he was released from his deal with the Sharks, only to re-sign on a one-year contract.
However when the NRL delayed ratifying his deal, which would have allowed him to begin serving his time, he began to investigate other options.
"Until yesterday afternoon I had no clear pathway outlined to me of how I was entering back into rugby league," Barba said.
"A phone call from NRL CEO Todd Greenberg provided me for the first time since October a clear picture of my position which I thank Todd for taking the time to contact me and discuss it, also I openly provided him with my current circumstances.
"It was advised that my contract with the Sharks was not going to be registered until just before round 12 which placed the club in a difficult position regarding their financial position and if or how I may earn an income through this period."
Barba was pilloried for telling media on Wednesday that: "the NRL hasn't given me much".
The 27-year-old was responding to questions about the timeline given for his return and complained that it had been taken out of context by some people who were painting him as ungrateful.
By Steve Zemek, AAP