De Belin calls meeting with Greenberg over court case
Jack de Belin wants to meet NRL boss Todd Greenberg face-to-face for the first time in more than 12 months as the St George Illawarra star braces for the possibility of his court case dragging into a third year.
In another development, the Rugby League Players Association (RLPA) will use their stronger-than-ever position within the halls of League Central to reignite a legal challenge of the NRL's controversial no-fault stand-down policy. The players union want it scrapped.
The disruption to the justice system caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has been widespread, with new jury trials suspended as a measure by the courts to kerb the spread of infection.
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The suspension of hundreds of cases throughout the country will undoubtedly cause a mass backlog of courtrooms for the remainder of the year.
De Belin was suspended under the NRL's new no-fault stand-down policy on February 28 last year after he and co-accused Callan Sinclair pleaded not guilty to a sexual assault charge.
The Dragons were hoping de Belin's next scheduled court appearance, this coming Wednesday in Wollongong District Court, would resolve the pre-trial legal arguments that have delayed the trial being heard.
However, that appears forlorn, with Judge Andrew Haesler pencilling in a November 2 trial date with both de Belin's legal team and the prosecution.
If the November 2 date stands, de Belin will have served 87 weeks on the sideline.
However, conscious of the impact that COVID-19 is having on the justice system and the fear his case could be pushed beyond November 2 and possibly into 2021, de Belin and RLPA executives are pushing to meet with Greenberg to demonstrate the personal toll of the policy.
It's understood the RLPA also want to show how the rule doesn't account for a delayed judicial system that is out of the former NSW Origin forward's control.
The meeting request is separate to a wider challenge by the RLPA of the NRL's no-fault stand-down policy that is being overseen by an independent arbitrator.
The RLPA's dispute with the NRL is directed at the governing body and how it has used its powers to change rules, specifically related to players, without the union's consultation - as is required by the Collective Bargaining Agreement.
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Ironically, the governing body's lack of consultation with the players over the game's poor financial status was also the thread of most contention in recent days - and it ultimately led to the players' union garnering greater respect from the NRL.
An arbitrator has been appointed to determine if the NRL should have consulted the RLPA in greater detail before implementing the polarising policy in February last year.
Interestingly, after working closer than ever before last week to help save the game financially, the contentious rule was mentioned in-part by delegates of the RLPA during their intense discussions with the NRL.
The RLPA is hoping the arbitrator rules that policy can be overturned - or at least considered for major review by the NRL - by the end of this month.
If the NRL are found to be in breach of the CBA, the players' association will seek to have the no-fault stand-down rule deemed invalid, paving the way for de Belin to return to playing - when the competition resumes - as he waits for his trial.
Originally published as De Belin calls meeting with Greenberg over court case