Jack de Belin’s lawyer says his case highlights the flaws of the NRL’s controversial no-fault stand-down rule, declaring: “Somebody could be held out for five years”.
de Belin and co-accused Callan Sinclair are facing a retrial of their rape case in April next year.
The Dragons lock has already sat out of the game for two years while waiting for a verdict on his playing future and is still not clear of a return with a third season in limbo.
Initially many thought de Belin would have to wait until August for a retrial, given the backlog of cases, however, Judge Andrew Haesler said it was an unacceptable delay and moved the retrial to Sydney to fast-track proceedings.
The pair are now scheduled to defend five charges before a NSW District Court judge and jury.
De Belin’s lawyer, David Campbell SC, said the delays shoed faults in the NRL’s position on player behaviour.
“That’s a vice of the rule, isn’t it?” Campbell told the Sydney Morning Herald.
“The absence of some discretionary element in the rule is highlighted by this case because somebody could be held out for five years.
“There needs to be some discretionary amelioration with the harshness of the rule.”
The NRL have hinted they won’t change the policy despite the hung jury.
The Dragons announced an agreement to re-sign de Belin after his contract expired at the end of the season, with the club having hoped that the saga would be resolved, one way or another, this week.
The Dragons still have some room in their 2021 budget but are tipped to wait until a decision is made on de Belin before looking to add to their list.