Colman: The NRL has failed us
Less than two weeks ago NRL boss Todd Greenberg was commended for "drawing a line in the sand" by banning Ben Barba for life over allegations he had hit his wife.
Since then that line has been washed away by a wave of indignation and disgust.
By allowing Jack de Belin to continue training and playing for St George-Illawarra while charged with rape, the NRL has lost any ground it gained with the Barba decision - regardless of the fact de Belin has pleaded not guilty.
Whoever is advising Greenberg and his boss Peter Beattie needs a crash course in public relations or, at the very least, damage control.
For years we have seen the NRL come out with some inexplicable decisions, but this one has got to rate as one of the worst.
It's not as if those who run the game aren't aware of the importance of being seen to take a hard line stance about violence against women.
Precisely 12 days ago, in the wake of Barba being sacked by the Cowboys and banned by the NRL, Greenberg told reporters: "Where we see violence - particularly violence against women - we will act and we will act in the strongest terms."
And exactly what are those "strongest terms" in the case of de Belin?
Absolutely nothing. On March 2 de Belin will run out for the Charity Shield match against South Sydney with an NRL logo on his jersey.
It's bad enough that the Dragons have allowed de Belin to continue training and playing for the club while on bail, but for the NRL to tacitly endorse their inaction by not stepping in makes them complicit.
Yeah, yeah, I know the old fallback, "It's in the hands of the courts so our hands are tied", but that is a complete crock.
Employees are stood down pending an inquiry into their behaviour all the time.
A school principal in Victoria was recently stood down pending an inquiry into the posting of a video of him dragging a student along the ground.
A TV presenter was stood down pending an inquiry after footage appeared of him swearing at a charity function. Police officers are regularly stood down pending inquiries into allegations against them, as are company directors and politicians.
What makes a rugby league footballer a protected species?
Especially one facing charges as serious as those levelled against de Belin?
Now it is possible that de Belin will be exonerated by the court when the case goes to trial. It is possible that he will stand on the courthouse steps, thank his wife and legal team for standing by him, and get on with his life.
But even that won't mean that the NRL was right in sitting on their hands while the public image of the game was dragged deeper and deeper into the gutter.
There is an old saying that Peter Beattie, as a former lawyer, would know well.
Not only must justice but done. It must be seen to be done.
What was needed was, as Greenberg promised, action in the strongest terms. At the very least de Belin should have been stood down on full pay until the case was resolved.
Anything to show the public that the line in the sand wasn't just hot air.