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Barba no risk for Cowboys: Coach Green

North Queensland coach Paul Green isn't put off by Ben Barba's wayward off-field record, saying the fullback would fall into line should he end up at the Cowboys next season.

Barba appears bound for Townsville in a direct swap with Lachlan Coote after UK Super League club St Helens confirmed their interest in the discarded Cowboys fullback.

According to News Corp Australia, the ex-Cronulla star will return to the NRL next year after inking a one-season deal to help the Cowboys tackle life without Johnathan Thurston.

The former Dally M Medallist is seeking a release from the final year of his St Helens contract after reports Barba's partner is homesick.

It would be the first Barba sighting in the NRL since he was sacked by Cronulla and copped a 12-game ban for testing positive to cocaine following the Sharks' 2016 maiden premiership.

The 29-year-old would be free to play from round one, given the Super League and NRL's reciprocal acknowledgement of bans allowed him to serve his suspension with St Helens.

Before his cocaine ban, Barba's time in the NRL with Canterbury was plagued by behavioural and personal issues.

Green insisted no contracts had been signed but said if the livewire ended up at the Cowboys, he was confident he would play by their rules.

"Fullback's a position we're looking at and Ben, obviously a great player, if we can work something out there (that'd be good)," Green said.

"We've got a pretty strong group up here, if he wants to play at the club ... anyone that pulls on the jersey has to buy into our culture.

"I think he's had a pretty good year in Super League; you can only go on what you can go on."

The Cowboys are expected to pay the UK heavyweights a transfer fee for the contracted Barba, but may also get Coote for their troubles after St Helens coach Justin Holbrook said the former Scotland international was in his sights.

Off contract No.1 Coote, 28, was looking for a new club after falling out of favour with Green this season.

St Helens mentor Holbrook is circling Coote after already snapping up Wests Tigers' Kevin Naiqama and Cronulla forward Joseph Paulo for his 2019 squad.

It is believed North Queensland only offered Barba a one-year deal so the once troubled X-factor could prove his long-term worth.

NRL CEO Todd Greenberg had previously said Barba's NRL return would be considered "on its merits".

© AAP 2018