The game must take a stance on the de Belin case. (Brett Costello)
The game must take a stance on the de Belin case. (Brett Costello)

Craddock: De Belin call the only right answer

Rugby league has learnt the hard way the more it tries to implement black and white rules the more it becomes mired in a sea of grey.

It happened with the shoulder charge. It happened with the bunker.

The more categorical it becomes the more confusion it creates.

The challenge now is to stop it happening with the new rules to be introduced to stamp out the disgraceful off-field incidents that have tarnished the game.

On Thursday, League's bosses are expected to announce a bad behaviour threshold and any player who steps beyond it is stood down while their charges are heard in court.

Sounds great but where do you place the line?

Dragon Jack de Belin's sexual assault charge is surely a 10 out of 10 on the scandal scale and well beyond the line.

It appears certain he will be stood down until the end of his court case.

But where will the line fall on Manly's Dylan Walker?

Walker faces charges of common assault and assault occasioning bodily harm after an alleged altercation when she disrupted his game of PlayStation to ask him whether he wanted a spoon with his meal.

Should it matter that his partner has retracted her statement?

 

Dylan Walker and fiance Alexandra Ivkovic leave Manly Court. (AAP Image/Jeremy Piper)
Dylan Walker and fiance Alexandra Ivkovic leave Manly Court. (AAP Image/Jeremy Piper)

 

Rugby league is craving clarity and certainty but it will be nigh impossible get it.

Where, for instance, do you rank Greg Inglis' recent low level drink drive charge?

It's fine saying it was "not that serious'' but what message does that send?

And where is the line on charges faced by Newcastle centre Tautau Moga who allegedly twice slapped a taxi driver in December following a day at the Newcastle races?

If you say "he doesn't deserve to be stood down because his charge was not as serious'' someone responds with "you reckon slapping a taxi driver is not a serious charge?''

There is no perfect answer. The NRL are an easy target but you would not want to trade places with them and have to make the call.

The one certainty is that de Belin should be stood down. He has to be.

Can you image the undignified crowd sledging that will erupt every time he plays, not to mention the possibility of organised protests?

The game may actually be doing him a favour by sparing him from the blowtorch headed his way in a saga which has tarnished the image of the game … and it's a long way from being over.