NRL seeks legal advice on de Belin

Peter Beattie says the ARLC is collecting a wide range of information before meeting next week.
Peter Beattie says the ARLC is collecting a wide range of information before meeting next week.

The NRL is seeking legal advice and canvassing other sports as it contemplates standing down players who are charged with serious offences, such as Jack de Belin.

The Australian Rugby League Commission will meet next week when the issue will be top of the agenda in the wake of a scandal-plagued off-season.

Should the ARLC change the game's long-held policy of allowing players to take the field while they are before the courts, St George Illawarra lock de Belin could be immediately sidelined.

De Belin has pleaded not guilty to the charge of aggravated sexual assault in company of a 19-year-old woman, with the club refusing to stand him down.

The Dragons will on Tuesday announce whether de Belin will be selected in their side for their opening trial match of the season, against Newcastle at Jubilee Stadium on Saturday.

ARLC chairman Peter Beattie said the independent commission were collecting legal advice, specifically whether being stood down would affect a defendant's presumption of innocence.

Beattie said they would look at the disciplinary policies of the AFL, soccer, rugby union, the International Olympic Committee and major overseas sports.

Feedback from clubs and those in the game, as well as input from commissioner Professor Megan Davis, a highly-regarded lawyer, will also be considered.

"The ARLC and NRL are not sitting on our hands," Beattie said.

"In light of recent events, we are reviewing the game's current disciplinary policy.

"The ARLC will be decisive and clear about the game's policy coming out of our meeting on February 28. We will listen to all our stakeholders.

"We will make an informed decision based on all these facts and after taking it to a meeting of club and state chairs and CEOs that day, it will be announced and vigorously explained and defended."

Any attempts to change policy are set to be met with stiff opposition from the Rugby League Players Association.

Penrith and NSW playmaker and RLPA board member James Maloney said that violence against women couldn't be tolerated but said players such as de Belin could not be pre-judged.

"The whole thing in our country is innocent until proven guilty," Maloney said.

"Just because he's a footballer doesn't mean he loses that right."

Australian Associated Press