Jack de Belin is fighting his NRL ban in the Federal Court. Picture: AAP
Jack de Belin is fighting his NRL ban in the Federal Court. Picture: AAP

NRL failed to give ‘anti-violence training’ to de Belin, hearing told

Embattled Dragons star Jack de Belin's lawyer says the NRL failed him in not providing anti-violence against women training, adding some controversy can be good for sport.

The comments came on the final hearing day of the lock's Federal Court bid to overturn his playing ban for rape charges, which has heard the "draconian" no-fault stand down rule will ruin his career.

Jack de Belin has maintained his innocence. Picture: AAP
Jack de Belin has maintained his innocence. Picture: AAP

The NSW State of Origin forward allegedly raped a 19-year-old woman inside a Wollongong apartment in the early hours of December 9 last year, while his friend and co-accused, Callan Sinclair, watched on.

De Belin, who last week welcomed the birth of his daughter with partner Alyce Taylor, vehemently denies the allegations and faces up to 20 years in jail if convicted.

On Thursday the 28-year-old's barrister Martin Einfeld QC said the unprecedented hard line policy was a "last resort" because there was not a single education program which de Belin was made to attend that promoted respect towards women.

Those claims were refuted by the NRL's barrister Alan Sullivan QC, who said the theatre sports course presented players with scenarios that directly addressed violence against women.

In February the NRL and Australian Rugby League Commission vowed to clean up the code following a scandalous off-season, with immediate bans for any player charged with an offence carrying a maximum prison term of 11 years or more.

They claim the controversial provision was critical to prevent an exodus of fans and sponsors.

But Mr Einfeld said viewers wouldn't necessarily be turned off by controversy and that "some people will watch irrespective of whether they're role models".

He said there was no evidence the "bad behaviour" of tennis stars was a detriment to that sport.

"Some people might like to watch it," Mr Einfeld said in closing submissions.

"I dare say John McEnroe was famous for causing disruption."

Earlier, Melbourne Storm chairman Bart Campbell said the NRL's summer from hell cost his club $500,000 a year in lost sponsorship, adding the code must work to protect women in society.

"This is not about Jack de Belin, this is about a policy for the game," Mr Campbell said outside court.

"I've got no issues with Jack per se, but I want the game to be able to make choices about how it can protect its value going forward."

Melbourne Storm chairman Bart Campbell says sponsors are scared of being involved with the NRL. Picture: AAP
Melbourne Storm chairman Bart Campbell says sponsors are scared of being involved with the NRL. Picture: AAP

Mr Campbell said following the code's tumultuous off-season his club has struggled to replace major partner Crown Resorts, which in 2017 announced it wouldn't renew its seven-figure deal.

Negotiations with up to 20 potential corporate partners were derailed and the Storm became "commercially compromised", partly by reputational damage following de Belin's December 13 aggravated sexual assault charge, the court heard.

"Our process became fraught because four companies we'd been talking to said the risk of associating with the NRL was too great," Mr Campbell said.

This year the Storm signed real estate company Purple Bricks on a one-year contract that was $500,000 below market value, the court heard.

Jack de Belin is fighting his NRL ban in the Federal Court. Picture: AAP
Jack de Belin is fighting his NRL ban in the Federal Court. Picture: AAP

Mr Campbell said in the six years he'd been at the helm, club sponsorship had risen by 73 per cent, crowd figures had gone up 70, membership had jumped 75 per cent and television audiences have soared from 11 million to 19 million.

"Recent issues have halted that success," he said.

But Mr Einfeld argued that sponsors flagged concerns about player behaviour with the NRL as early as April 2018, and rushing the new rule in three days before the 2019 season kicked off was an unfair tactic targeting de Belin.

"Players had been involved in sexual misconduct towards women for years before this happened," he said.

NRL CEO Todd Greenberg. Picture: AAP
NRL CEO Todd Greenberg. Picture: AAP

Mr Sullivan said de Belin's charge was "the straw that broke the camel's back", but Mr Einfield said there was no evidence to suggest sponsors had deserted clubs as a direct consequence.

The Cootamundra-born athlete's manager predicts he'll lose at least $120,000 from being sidelined this year alone.

In an affidavit, Stephen Gillis said de Belin would be paid $90,000 plus a $30,000 bonus from the Dragons if selected again for the Blues, and could stand to pocket a further $30,000 club bonus if the star backrower is named for the 2019 Kangaroos squad.

Mr Gillis testified that de Belin will cop a "severe financial hit" with his ban likely to extend past his October 2020 contract, which will render de Belin virtually unemployable if he's off the field for that long.

St George Illawarra is ready to play de Belin should he win the landmark case, however Justice Melissa Perry said she was unlikely to hand down her judgment next week.

De Belin hasn't run out for the Dragons since being charged and his criminal lawyer doesn't expect he and Sinclair to face a trial until mid-next year.

The marquee player wants to be compensated for damage to his name, hurt and stress, while the ruling will have huge ramifications for the game after Mr Greenberg used his discretionary powers to suspend Manly's Dylan Walker and Penrith's Tyrone May.

And De Belin's immediate playing future is not the only career at stake in the case with ARLC chairman Peter Beattie's own leadership on the line.