Peter Beattie has told the NRL’s sponsors and fans that the league’s no-fault stand-down rule will work, despite the game’s season launch being overshadowed by drama.
- The NRL season kicks off next Thursday when Melbourne play Brisbane
- De Belin is attempting to sue the NRL for suspending him before gaining the power to do so
- The NRL is confident de Belin will be stood down once the “no fault” policy is enacted in the next 48 hours
The NRL launched its season at Icebergs in Bondi on Thursday night, just hours after Jack de Belin took the game to court over its decision to stand him down.
In Federal Court on Thursday, though, the NRL admitted the rule, which will see players charged with serious offences being stood down, was yet to be finalised, meaning de Belin was still eligible to play in the NRL — at least for the next 48 hours.
However, the NRL remained adamant the rule would be enacted in the next couple of days and de Belin’s ban would be formalised, well before the matter returned to court next Thursday.
“What I can tell you is the commission endorsed a policy decision last week,” NRL boss Todd Greenberg said at the competition’s season launch.
“We then need to write the rule. That will be done in the next 48 hours, and from there we let the courts make their decision.”
De Belin is attempting to sue the league on the basis it did not have the power to suspend him last Thursday, and that it engaged in misleading and deceptive conduct.
He also wants the Federal Court to stop the NRL and ARL Commission from implementing the rule in the future. The rule would see players charged with offences that carry an 11-year jail term, and automatically stood down on full pay for the duration of their cases.
Under the yet-to-be-enacted rule, Greenberg also had the power to stand down players charged with offences that carried less than 11 years, such as in the cases of Dylan Walker and Tyrone May.
Manly’s Walker, who has a pending assault case, and Penrith’s May, who faces several charges over recording and disseminating a sex video, are in the same position.
Commission standing firm
Despite what appeared to be a significant misstep from the Commission, chairman Peter Beattie declared that the new rule would work when addressing the game’s sponsors, fans and highest profile players at the season launch.
“You all know that we’re taking a stand on player behaviour. We are determined as a game to grow up as a game,” Beattie said.
“Not just in terms of policy changes but rather a holistic strategy to improve our culture in the game.
“We do that because it is the right thing to do, and we do that because we value you as partners, we value you our players, and we value our fans.
“The Commission is absolutely determined to deliver on this.
“Let me just say to all of you: Give us a little bit of time, but the rule change we brought in — the no-fault rule — will work.”
Beattie earlier on Thursday admitted his job was on the line over his determination to clean up the game’s image, after he last week claimed the no-fault rule gave the league the power to fix its broken culture.
Insisting that “you can’t compromise on integrity”, Beattie said he was “here to do a job for rugby league” and help repair the game’s image.
De Belin’s sexual assault charge — which he has vigorously denied and pleaded not guilty to — is one of several dramas to have plagued the league this summer.
Since the conclusion of the final round last year, there have been 24 off-field controversies — ranging from players being charged with assault, rape and drink-driving — to a series of sex tape leaks and clubs being punished for salary-cap scandals.
But Beattie said the new rule was the first of several measures taken to turn around the off-field issues.
“[Commissioner] Professor Megan Davis — who is an expert in this area — will look at our culture, look at the programs we’ve got, to make sure they are delivering what we want them to deliver to the game,” he said.
“In addition to that, we will be spend $8 million a year on those cultural changes. To make certain that what has happened for a tiny percentage of players, doesn’t happen again.”
Topics: sport, rugby-league, nrl, australia, nsw, bondi-2026
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