NRL set to offer clubs salary cap relief for players who are stood down

Jack de Belin remains available for the Dragons despite facing charges of aggravated sexual assault of a 19-year-old woman. Mark Kolbe/Getty Images

NRL clubs will reportedly be offered salary cap relief if they are forced to stand down players who are facing serious criminal charges.

The move will be taken following the sexual assault charges against St George Illawarra and NSW forward Jack de Belin, a News Corp Australia report says.

If the new plan is rubber-stamped, clubs will be allowed to sign a replacement player on a short-term agreement.

The NRL's independent commission will make a decision this week about whether or not to allow de Belin to start the new season following a summer of shame for the code that has seen several players involved in serious off-field incidents.

If de Belin is stood down, he would remain on his full pay of $600,000 until his court case has been finalised, which could take as long as 18 months.

De Belin is accused of sexually assaulting a 19-year-old woman at his cousin's apartment after a night out in Wollongong in December last year.

The 27-year-old has pleaded not guilty to the charge of aggravated sexual assault and will return to court on April 17.