'Morally tone deaf': NRL responds to explosive email

Steve Zemek
'Morally tone deaf': NRL responds to explosive email

The NRL will consider standing down players accused of serious crimes after promising to review a hardline stance put forward by Melbourne chairman Bart Campbell.

The game is in damage control after an off-season in which player misbehaviour has dominated headlines and sent rugby league spiralling in the standing of fans and sponsors

A frustrated Campbell on Thursday fired off an email to league bosses and fellow club chiefs in which he lamented that the game had become "morally tone deaf".

Campbell said that if Jack de Belin, who this week pleaded not guilty to a rape charge, were signed to the Storm, he would stand down the NSW State of Origin lock while the court case is heard.

He said that in many other professions an employee in that situation would be stood down, and urged the NRL to drive a change in policy.

ARLC chairman Peter Beattie said Campbell's submission will be reviewed when the commission meets on February 28.

"The ARLC is strongly opposed to anyone in rugby league being involved in violence of any kind, especially domestic violence and any behaviour which brings the game into disrepute," Beattie said.

Jack de Belin has not been stood down by the NRL or the Dragons. Pic: Getty

"The ARLC has instructed the NRL to take the strongest possible action against any player engaged in such behaviour - from serious fines to suspensions and de-registration."

The NRL and St George Illawarra have both refused to stand down de Belin, saying he is entitled to the presumption of innocence.

The Rugby League Players Association also warned against pre-judging any player.

NRL CEO Todd Greenberg has already promised to mete out harsher penalties for any player found guilty of violent offences, as evidenced by his decision to hand Ben Barba a life ban after he was involved in an altercation with his partner at a Townsville casino.

The NRL is meeting with the chief executives of all 16 clubs in Melbourne on Friday where player behaviour is once again expected to be on the agenda.