national news pageheader 2018

De Belin's NRL challenge takes next step

Jack de Belin will on Monday ramp up the biggest challenge of the NRL's power by a player in almost three decades as he attempts to return back to the playing field for St George Illawarra.

De Belin's case against the NRL and its no-fault policy returns to the Federal Court on Monday, with a three-day hearing expected to deliver a verdict by Wednesday.

The NSW State of Origin lock hasn't played in the NRL since being charged with sexual assault in December - an allegation he has strenuously denied and pleaded not guilty to.

Not since Terry Hill took on - and ended - the league's controversial draft system in 1991 have the game's powerbrokers faced such a challenge from a player.

Brought in after a summer from hell off the field with 24 off-field incidents, ARL Commission chairman Peter Beattie claimed the no-fault policy gave the game the chance to fix its broken image.

But it's set to prove the defining moment of his tenure, given he championed the cause for its introduction and has since conceded his job was on the line over the rule's ability to stand.

"Mine (position) probably is (on the line). But I didn't come into this faint-hearted," Beattie told AAP last month.

"The reality is we're here to do a job for rugby league. I've got a good commission and this will go before the court and we'll let the court decide.

"But our determination to clean up that tiny percentage of players who aren't behaving appropriately is absolutely clear. You can't compromise on integrity."

NRL chief executive Todd Greenberg and the league's head of commercial Andrew Abdo have both provided affidavits ahead of the hearing.

The case could also have far-reaching consequences beyond just de Belin, with Manly's Dylan Walker and Penrith's Tyrone May also both stood down under the no-fault policy.

Meanwhile Dragons coach Paul McGregor has indicated he would be ready to welcome de Belin back to his side if he wins the case and becomes available for selection.

"What I hope happens is that he does win," McGregor said of de Belin's case on Sunday.

"I don't know too much (about it).

"Will I pick Jack, if he is mentally and physically right? Absolutely."

© AAP 2019