Debate has raged over whether the pair should be allowed to feature for their clubs when the NRL competition begins next month, with ARLC chairman Peter Beattie flagging the likelihood of a change to the code’s behavioural policy at next week’s annual general meeting in Sydney.
The Dragons and Sea Eagles could be left without influential players, both of whom take up sizeable chunks of their respective salary caps.
However, the ARLC is has already weighed up the ramifications on a club’s roster and total payment pool if they give the nod to the stand-down edict.
De Belin’s case, in particular, could be clogged up in the legal system for more than a year, which would be a significant disadvantage for the Dragons should he be stood down for its duration.
Under the proposal for salary cap relief, they could be allowed to go into the market and find a replacement player.
It would be a small compensation for St George Illawarra, who have rallied behind de Belin and are understood to have lobbied against any radical change to the code’s behavioural policy.
It’s unclear how much of a stood-down player’s salary would be available for a replacement under the cap relief scheme. The ARLC would likely ensure any player stood down still receives full pay and has welfare provisions put in place while they’re away from the field.
Only last year the NRL granted clubs salary cap relief for long-term injuries sustained in Tests and State of Origin matches, enabling them to spend up to $350,000 for players out for 12 weeks or longer.
There is strong opposition to the policy change from the Rugby League Players’ Association, which has urged the NRL not to be «judge, jury and executioner» before the legal process is complete.
The NRL’s behaviour policy will be among a range of integrity issues on the agenda at one of the most important meetings in the game’s recent history, with decisions expected on salary cap probes into Cronulla and Wests Tigers and an investigation into the Dylan Napa sex tapes.