Suspended Canterbury Bulldogs star Ben Barba has been linked to a notorious party crew, a day after being stood down by his club.
Barba joined the Cronulla-based Epic Bender Crew just before Christmas last year, according to News Limited.
The tight-knit group of Gen Y mates are renowned for hard partying and bingeing their way through most weekends.
While a painful split with childhood sweetheart, Ainslie Currie, and problem gambling have also contributed, excessive drinking and partying with the Epic Bender Crew since Christmas have also conspired toward Barba's downfall, Australian media have reported.
Barba had the letters EBC tattooed across his stomach.
EBC member Daniel Folkes, the son of former Bulldogs coach Steve Folkes and a former Canterbury under-20s team-mate of Barba's, posted a photo of the fresh tattoo on Facebook before Christmas.
Daniel Folkes also featured on the short-lived reality TV show 'The Shire', which is modelled on the British show 'The Only Way is Essex.'
NRL Betting Markets In Disarray
The NRL premiership second favourites stood down their champion indefinitely yesterday citing behavioural issues.
Early indications were Barba, one of the favourites to score the most tries in 2013 and take out another Dally M medal, could miss a considerable number of games.
"Premiership betting and other markets are in disarray," Tattsbet's Gerard Daffy said, as bookmakers either suspended or adjusted their NRL market within hours of the news breaking.
"Canterbury were second favourites but we can safely say they can't win the competition if Barba doesn't play on what we saw last year."
Bill Richmond from Sportingbet Australia said without Barba the Bulldogs had no scoring bite in them.
"Take him out of the spine and they don't look anywhere near as dangerous in attack," said Richmond.
"If he misses a lot of games, they can't win the premiership.
"We've already wound them in from $3.75 to $3 to miss the eight, he is that important to them."
- With AAP