NRL D-Day as bombshell decision looms
The NRL looks headed for a showdown with its players over behaviour with the possible threat of legal action looming large.
The ARL commission is expected on Thursday to green light changes to its policy, allowing for players accused of serious crimes to be stood down pending the outcome of their court cases.
At a momentous meeting of the independent commission at Rugby League Central at Moore Park today, the policy is expected to be pushed through, despite opposition from the Rugby League Players Association.
After a summer marked by negative headlines and a string of scandals, the NRL has been hit from pillar to post and feels it must act.
A change in the NRL's policy would almost certainly see St George Illawarra's Jack de Belin stood down.
De Belin has been charged with aggravated sexual assault but has pleaded not guilty.
Manly's Dylan Walker, who has pleaded not guilty to common assault stemming from an alleged domestic violence incident, could also be stood aside while he is before the courts.
ARLC chairman Peter Beattie has been vocal about the need for change while respected voices such as Australian coach Mal Meninga also feel that it would be the right thing for the game.
"I'm black and white, particularly when it comes to serious crimes," Meninga said at the Fox League launch on Wednesday.
"I say those things because I understand some of the great things that the game does in the communities.
"I understand we have great welfare systems. And I also understand there's a young lady who has made these allegations, there's a duty of care to make sure we look after her."
The RLPA is standing firm behind its members and argues that the NRL already has the ability under its code of conduct to sideline players if there is evidence of misbehaviour.
The players' union also argues that cases such as de Belin are different from examples of corporate leaders being stood aside while they answer criminal charges and that any time spent out of the game would be catastrophic for their career and right to earn a living.
The RLPA and de Belin have not yet explored their legal options. However it's understood that the RLPA would stand behind any player who sues the NRL if they are stood down.
As part of any changes, the NRL is expected to also approve salary cap relief for any player who is stood down.