The rape trial of sidelined St George Illawarra Dragons star Jack de Belin has been delayed until at least April, casting further doubt over his playing future.
The sudden illness of a significant witness in the pre-trial legal argument forced proceedings to end early on Wednesday afternoon.
It was hoped the witness, whose name has been suppressed by the court, would be available on Thursday, however Judge Andrew Haesler said he'd received medical certificates confirming the person was ill and unavailable to give evidence.
Judge Haesler said he had no alternative but to further delay the case as the pre-trial legal issues had to be resolved before any trial could begin.
He adjourned the case to April 8 for the continuation of the legal debate, the details of which cannot be published for significant legal reasons.
De Belin and his co-accused, Shellharbour Sharks player Callan Sinclair, stand accused of sexually assaulting a young woman inside a North Wollongong unit block during a night out in December 2018.
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They have each pleaded not guilty to four counts of aggravated sexual assault in company and one count of aggravated sexual assault in company inflicting actual bodily harm.
Their joint jury trial had been due to start last Monday however lawyers for both men raised a series of legal complications in the case they said needed to be resolved before a trial could begin.
Meanwhile, the ongoing delay has cast further doubt over de Belin's playing career with the Dragons.
He did not take the field last season after he became the first player stood down under the NRL's controversial "no-fault stand-down" policy.
De Belin unsuccessfully challenged the policy in the NSW Federal Court but abandoned an appeal after his trial date was brought forward to February this year.
It was expected to see a resolution to the case prior to the start of the NRL season on March 12.
The matter will now drag on well past NRL season kickoff and cast doubt over de Belin's playing future given the NRL is unlikely to relax its stance that players charged with offences carrying potential prison sentences of 11 years or more will be stood down until legal proceedings are concluded.