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Beattie backs NRL's behaviour policy

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ARL Commission chairman Peter Beattie has unapologetically backed the NRL's no-fault player behaviour policy before its toughest test in the Federal Court this week.

Beattie played a leading role in the implementation of the policy, which gives NRL chief executive Todd Greenberg the discretion to stand down players charged with serious criminal offences which carry a maximum jail term of 11 years or more.

Manly's Dylan Walker, who was stood down after being charged with domestic violence offences, is poised to return to the pitch this weekend after being found not guilty in a Sydney court last week.

The NRL has since confirmed Walker's suspension has been lifted pending the review of court documents.

The policy faces a bigger challenge this week when the Federal Court delivers its ruling on St George Illawarra lock Jack De Belin's bid to have his playing status restored.

De Belin has been charged with the aggravated sexual assault of a 19-year-old woman but has pleaded not guilty to the charge and his lawyers have argued the NRL's policy represents a restraint of trade.

Beattie refuted the suggestion the Walker verdict meant the policy had failed its first test.

"I stress that this is a 'no-fault' rule which means the ARLC is not making any judgement whatsoever on the guilt or innocence of any player stood down after being charged with an offence," Beattie said.

"It is then up to the court to decide on innocence or guilt.

"This policy protects the welfare of the game while the courts are going through their processes.

"Clearly the Dylan Walker case demonstrates that this policy did not prejudice players before the court."

Beattie said he believed the policy would, over time, lead to improved player behaviour.

"This is about protecting the whole game and all players. If the game loses value players will be paid less," he said.

"That is how it works. It is that simple.

"I am not backing down on this policy and nor is the ARLC."

© AAP 2019

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