De Belin withdraws appeal, ends stand-off with NRL

WITHDRAWN: Jack de Belin, pictured outside Wollongong Local Court on Tuesday, has withdrawn his appeal against the NRL's no-fault stand-down policy. Picture: Sylvia Liber.
WITHDRAWN: Jack de Belin, pictured outside Wollongong Local Court on Tuesday, has withdrawn his appeal against the NRL's no-fault stand-down policy. Picture: Sylvia Liber.

DRAGONS forward Jack de Belin has withdrawn his appeal against the NRL's no-fault stand-down policy, ensuring he remains stood down pending the outcome of his criminal case.

De Belin and co-accused Callan Sinclair appeared in Wollongong District Court on Tuesday morning where Acting Judge Paul Conlon set a starting date of March 2 next year for for their trial on aggravated sexual assault charges.

It will see the trial, that's expected to last two weeks, begin just 10 days prior to the start of the 2020 NRL season.

De Belin and Sinclair have pleaded not guilty to the charges stemming from an alleged incident in a Wollongong apartment last December.

De Belin was stood down by the NRL in February after his first court appearance, becoming the first player sanctioned under the game's new 'no-fault' stand-down policy.

The policy stipulates that players facing serious charges - carrying 11 years imprisonment or more - will be automatically stood-down from playing until their court process has concluded.

De Belin failed in his first legal challenge of the no-fault policy in the Federal Court in May, with the court ruling in the NRL's favour.

He subsequently launched an appeal that was withdrawn on Thursday, a move welcomed by the NRL who've worn criticism from the Rugby League Players Association that claims the policy undermines the presumption of innocence in criminal matters.

"The Australian Rugby League Commission (ARLC) and the National Rugby League (NRL) welcome the withdrawal by Jack de Belin of his appeal concerning the NRL's no-fault stand down rule," The NRL said in a statement.

"The NRL's no-fault stand down rule introduced in March 2019 and confirmed by the Federal Court in May continues to apply.

"The Commission and the NRL take very seriously our responsibility to protect the reputation of the Game and its stakeholders.

"We have always held the view that the no-fault stand down rule is in the best interests of the Game and are pleased that the legal challenge to this rule has now been concluded.

"We continue to work with the Club to monitor the welfare of Mr de Belin."