Jack De Belin leaves the NSW Federal Court in Sydney on April 15.  Picture: Peter Rae/AAP
Jack De Belin leaves the NSW Federal Court in Sydney on April 15. Picture: Peter Rae/AAP

De Belin to learn playing fate on Friday

ST GEORGE Illawarra forward Jack de Belin will learn on Friday if he will be allowed to return to NRL action this season.

The Federal Court in Sydney has confirmed Justice Melissa Perry will hand down her judgment in de Belin's case against the ARL Commission and NRL at 4pm that day.

The NSW State of Origin lock, who is facing a sexual assault charge, launched legal action after he was stood down under the code's new "no-fault" rules.

The rules, which were rubberstamped in March, allow the NRL to stand down any player accused of a serious crime that carries a jail sentence of 11 years or more.

De Belin was charged with aggravated sexual assault of a 19-year-old woman in a Wollongong unit last December. He has pleaded not guilty.

Friday's judgment looms as a major test case for the NRL's no-fault rules.

De Belin and his lawyers argued in the Federal Court that the rules represented a restraint of trade and, unlike other professions and codes, he was not able to appear before a disciplinary hearing before being stood down.

NRL chief executive Todd Greenberg said the rules was needed to protect the game's reputation after its "summer from hell", during which several players were charged with serious offences.

If De Belin is successful he could potentially return to the NRL as soon as Sunday's clash with Newcastle at Mudgee, providing he obtains clearance from the NRL.

More likely De Belin could make his season debut next Sunday against Cronulla before a home crowd in Wollongong.

However if the legal action fails, Dragons coach Paul McGregor has previously voiced concern the 28-year-old's career could be over as the criminal case might not conclude before the end of the 2020 season.

"Jack is at an age now if he's not to play for two years his career is over," McGregor said.

De Belin has continued to train with the Dragons, McGregor saying last month he was impressed with the star's dedication.

"He's very strong and he gets his strength from his innocence," McGregor said.

"He's very strong about that."