Legal D-Day looms for Jack de Belin, NRL

St George Illawarra forward Jack de Belin's immediate future in the NRL will be clarified on Friday.
St George Illawarra forward Jack de Belin's immediate future in the NRL will be clarified on Friday.

D-Day will arrive for Jack de Belin on Friday, but the fight over the NRL's contentious no-fault stand down rules could rage for weeks, if not months.

Justice Melissa Perry is scheduled to hand down her judgment at 4pm (AEST) in the St George Illawarra star forward's Federal Court case against the NRL and ARL Commission.

On trial are the stand down rules penned by NRL chief executive Todd Greenberg and ARL Commission chairman Peter Beattie in the wake of the game's scandal-plagued off-season.

De Belin was stood down after he was charged with the aggravated sexual assault of a 19-year-old woman in December, allegations he denies and to which he has pleaded not guilty.

If de Belin is successful in the Federal Court, it would open the door for him to return to the NRL.

It appears unlikely that he would seek to return to the field against Newcastle in Mudgee on Sunday, given the Dragons would need to apply to the NRL for an exemption to include him in their playing squad.

Coach Paul McGregor was on Friday tight-lipped and refused to be drawn on hypotheticals.

"We're looking for some closure, and the decision that's made on Friday afternoon's important," McGregor said.

"There's been conversations around it on a weekly basis, on a daily basis, so it'll be nice, once the decision's made, that everyone can move on and Jack gets a little bit of closure around what's next.

"What happens after that, I really haven't given much thought to."

Instead, a return the following Sunday, in front of a supportive crowd at Wollongong's WIN Stadium, against Cronulla would appear the more likely option.

But even if de Belin does win, it's understood the NRL is likely to re-draft its rules.

If Justice Perry rules the stand-down provisions are illegal on certain grounds, the governing body is likely to go back to the drawing board and re-write the rules so that they comply with the Federal Court's ruling.

Beattie is known to be steadfast in his desire to push through change and he and Greenberg will hold a press conference following the decision.

They are determined to face the music, regardless of the outcome.

If the ruling does come down in favour of the NRL it will be vindication for Beattie, who is desperate for the game to protect its brand and image.

De Belin's camp fear it could spell the end of his career given his criminal case could take another 18 months to finalise.

They worry about the detrimental affect two years out of the game could have on the 28-year-old's future.

De Belin sued the NRL arguing the rules were unconscionable, represent a restraint of trade, constitutes unlawful interference with his contract and that the organisation were misleading in their conduct.

Australian Associated Press