DRAGONS coach Paul McGregor says a possible two-year stint on the sideline would effectively end the career of star lock Jack de Belin's whose federal court battle with the NRL continued on Thursday.
De Belin's federal court challenge of the game's new "no-fault stand-down" policy had dominated discussion around the game this week, with NRL chief executive Todd Greenberg grilled over two days on the policy.
It follow's the ARLC's decision to indefinitely stand de Belin down while he fights a charge of aggravated sexual assault, with that case briefly mentioned in Wollongong Local Court on Wednesday.
It leaves de Belin facing a possible two years on the sidelines while the criminal case plays out, something his legal team claim would be career-ending even if he's ultimately found not-guilty.
The stakes are high for both parties, but McGregor backed that assertion on when quizzed on the case on Thursday.
"I've said my thoughts before on it so I don't really want to go over it again but Jack's at an age now where, if he's not to play for two years, his career's over," McGregor said.
"Jack's very strong and he gets his strength from [maintaining] his innocence. He's very strong about that and he knows what he needs to go through to get back to playing. He's up for the fight for sure."
A final determination on the federal court case is likely to come early next week. If successful, it would open the door for de Belin to return for the Dragons Anzac Day blockbuster against the Roosters.
McGregor is hopeful of having the 27-year-old on deck sooner rather than later, but said he won't make a call on a possible return until the process has played out.
"It's probably a question to ask me next week," McGregor said.
"I'm not sure on the whole situation but I spoke to Jack on Tuesday and he's very optimistic with what's going on in court but the ruling won't come out til next week.
"I'd like to concern myself about that a little bit more next week because there's a lot of things to happen in that time"
Questions will remain over whether de Belin's will be mentally fit to make a return but McGregor said that call will be made in consultation with his player.
"Could he have played this week if it was done it been done by [Thursday]? Probably not due to what he has been though the last three or four days," McGregor said.
"The days in court have been long, he's been there the whole time and when I spoke to him on Tuesday he said they're long days and there's a lot of information coming out.
"He's there going through that process. Next week we'll cross that [bridge] when it does come."