NRL boss tells hearing women have ditched the game
NRL boss Todd Greenberg's own daughter's mates are just some of the many women who have walked away from the sport following a hellish off-season of sex scandals, the Federal Court has heard.
Greenberg was giving evidence in Dragons star Jack de Belin's legal bid to overturn his playing ban for rape charges, which has heard the "draconian" rule will ruin his career.
Greenberg insists the new no-fault stand-down rule was urgently needed to crackdown on player misconduct causing untold damage to the game's reputation.
"I'm the father of a daughter who plays regularly," he told the hearing on Wednesday.
"And a number of her friends have shared with me … the conduct of players is the reason why they will no longer play."
Mr Greenberg said it's just one example of women who have quit in the wake of a summer marred by allegations of domestic violence, drug use, leaked sex tapes and Mad Monday public nudity.
On Tuesday Mr Greenberg predicted the number of women playing league and touch footy across Australia won't grow in 2019.
But he also admitted he had no evidence the new hard line policy would curb off-field incidents before he introduced it.
The day before the league unveiled its controversial provision, Mr Greenberg said he drafted de Belin a media statement declaring he would voluntarily stand down, but that offer was rejected and he was benched.
"It was very important that the game was able to put forward its position and to ensure we continue to protect the brand of the game," Mr Greenberg said outside court.
St George Illawarra was ready to play de Belin this weekend should he win however the 28-year-old's hopes of being named for the club's clash against Manly on Saturday night have now been dashed because the hearing has not been completed.
But Greenberg admitted he had no proof the unprecedented policy would curb poor player behaviour.
"(And) you knew didn't you, that you had no evidence of any conduct of Mr de Belin at the time you introduced this new rule?," barrister Martin Einfeld QC asked in cross examination.
"All we looked at was the charge he was facing, not his conduct," Greenberg replied.
De Belin's lawyer has slammed the code's "unfair" policy he says is unique in Australia, if not the world.
Greenberg agreed that since the NRL's inception in 1908, players had always had a right to a hearing which has now been removed under the automatic and retrospective rule.
In February the NRL and Australian Rugby League Commission vowed to clean up the code with immediate bans for any player charged with an offence carrying a maximum prison term of 11 years or more.
De Belin hasn't run out for the Dragons since being charged with aggravated sexual assault in December.
The NSW State of Origin player, 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.
Police allege the Blues forward 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. Sinclair has also denied any wrongdoing.
De Belin's Federal Court case will have huge ramifications for the game after Greenberg used his discretionary powers to bench Manly's Dylan Walker and Penrith's Tyrone May for off-field incidents.
Questions will be raised about the leadership of ARLC chairman Peter Beattie pending the result of the landmark case.
The hearing before Justice Melissa Perry continues.