Jack de Belin could have to wait almost two months for his appeal to be heard as he fights to return to the field.
The St George Illawarra star will have to wait at least seven weeks before his appeal against the NRL‘s stand-down policy is heard in the Federal Court.
The 28-year-old has not played a single game this season after he pleaded not guilty to the rape of a 19-year-old woman in Wollongong, south of Sydney, in December.
Under ‘rule 22a’, players who are charged with an offence with a maximum prison term of 11 years are immediately stood down until court proceedings are finished.
Jack De Belin could be out of the game for some time with his appeal to return to the field still weeks away
The St George Illawarra star will have to wait at least seven weeks before his appeal against the NRL’s stand-down policy is heard in the Federal Court
De Belin initially challenged the stand-down policy, though was shut down in May.
Federal Court Justice Melissa Perry ruled the NRL was acting lawfully to protect its interests at the time.
De Belin was ordered to pay the NRL’s $300,000 legal fees – added to his own fees, he has already built up half a million dollars in debt, The Daily Telegraph reported.
His lawyers filed appeal documents against the ruling earlier this month.
Federal Court Judge Jayne Jagot on Wednesday agreed to expedite the former NSW State of Origin lock’s appeal after hearing his legal team were ‘essentially ready to go’.
However constraints upon the NRL’s lawyers mean the one-and-a-half-day hearing before the full court isn’t expected before August 14.
That means even if de Belin is successful, he won’t be eligible to play until at least round 22 of the 2019 season.
The court was told the main point of contention was whether the rule went further than reasonably necessary for the protection of the integrity of the NRL.
De Belin sat beside his manager, Steve Gillis, at the back of the court during the brief hearing in Sydney.
He has maintained his innocence since being charged with sexual assault in December.
It’s anticipated any trial may not take place until 2020.
De Belin initially challenged the stand-down policy, though was shut down in May