Full Pay, No Play: The NRL's Controversial Fix For Players Facing Criminal Charges
As 10 News First Revealed last week, NRL chair Peter Beattie would stand himself down if he faced serious charges like those hanging over St George Illawarra forward Jack de Belin.
You can see Beattie's comments in the video above. They were a clear indication that the NRL would move towards a formal policy of standing down accused players when its independent Commission meets this Thursday.
We now have further confirmation that the NRL will sideline accused players.
A report in today's Daily Telegraph says that clubs who stand down players facing serious criminal charges will receive salary cap compensation.
This would allow clubs to sign players of equivalent or lesser value for short-term contracts, which would mean that their playing roster would not be significantly weakened.
Accused players would remain on full pay until their cases have cleared the courts.
The thinking here is that clubs and players should not be penalised for the alleged actions of an individual player while the matter is before the courts.
Under Australian law, a person is innocent until proven guilty, and senior NRL figures have agonised in recent weeks about how to move on this issue.
Some have argued that sportspeople accused of any offence should be allowed to play. The NRL Players' Association has led this call, saying "the game can’t be judge, jury and executioner before the criminal process is complete".
But others have argued that it's a bad look for fans to be cheering for players with charges hanging over them.
It now appears almost certain that the NRL has been swayed by the second argument. Players will be sidelined and remain on full pay, and clubs will be compensated.
We'll know more details on Thursday after the Commission has met.