NRL slammed over ‘struggling’ de Belin
JACK de Belin's St George Illawarra teammates have thrown their arms around the suspended back-rower and their support behind a potential players' union challenge of the NRL's no-fault stand-down rules.
The representative star forward's future is dangling precariously after the Federal Court's dismissal last week of his case against the governing body, in a bitter blow to his bid to be reinstated.
His lawyers are weighing up an appeal as he battles an aggravated sexual assault charge in Wollongong Local Court.
He has pleaded not guilty, but been sidelined under the NRL's hard-line stand-down rules, under which any player charged with a serious crime that carries a jail term of 11 years or more can be stood down.
De Belin does have another avenue of recourse in a Rugby League Players' Association challenge of the stand-down rules under the collective bargaining agreement.
The RLPA has flagged a potential challenge and Dragons forward Jeremy Latimore, who sits on the organisation's board, is supportive of the union's stance.
"A hundred per cent. We're very disappointed with what happened with Jack," Latimore said.
"We feel like the NRL has acted outside the realms of the CBA, which we agreed upon as players and clubs and the NRL.
"They were reactive to a lot of stuff that wasn't good enough by players.
"I want to see something done because you don't want to see your teammate found guilty until proven innocent."
Dragons prop James Graham also said he was firmly behind de Belin and the RLPA's challenge.
De Belin will continue training with the side while his criminal case runs its course - which could extend into late next year,
He looked positive as he ran with teammates at WIN Stadium on Tuesday.
However, Latimore said de Belin was "struggling" with the prospect of sitting out the game for two seasons and his Dragons teammates were supporting him as best they could.
"I understand (the NRL's) position - they've got to act in the best interests of the game," Latimore said.
"But there's two sides to every story.
"He's been put on the sideline and he's struggling. He's around training but he can't play. We're really missing him as a playing group.
"It would be good to get the RLPA and NRL together to work on this. They've made a decision but hopefully the RLPA can dispute that."