RLPA takes another shot at NRL policy

The RLPA has taken another shot at the NRL's no-fault stand-down policy following the latest delay in Jack de Belin's rape trial.

Jack De Belin.
 Jack De Belin. Picture: Cameron Spencer/Getty Images

The NRL players union claims the latest delay in Jack de Belin's rape trial continues to show the "inherent unfairness" in the league's no-fault stand-down policy.

Ten days after it was delayed by legal argument, De Belin's case was on Thursday pushed back to April 8 after a witness fell ill.

The development will fuel fears the St George Illawarra star will be forced to sit out a second straight season as he battles sexual assault charges.

The Rugby League Players Association has long condemned the no-fault stand-down policy, which was introduced after a spate of off-field dramas last year.

And it's had another crack at the league following news of de Belin's delay.

"The fact the matter will now be further delayed due to legal complications again demonstrates the inherent unfairness of the NRL's "No-Fault Stand Down" Policy," a statement read.

"The policy restrains players from plying their trade for an indeterminate period of time while denying the player their fundamental right to the presumption of innocence.

"The player is also denied the right to be heard by the NRL in relation to its decision and the ongoing impact of the stand down period."

De Belin and co-accused Callan Sinclair have been accused of raping a 19-year-old woman inside a Wollongong apartment in December 2018.

Both have pleaded not guilty to five counts of aggravated sexual assault in company and face a trial expected to last two weeks.

The delay threatens to cast another shadow across the Dragons' campaign and again leaves the club without a former NSW and Kangaroos representative.

De Belin, 28, comes off-contract at the end of this season.