NRL won’t bow to pressure to stand down Jack de Belin​

NRL boss Todd Greenberg has not contacted the Dragons to tell them that Jack de Belin needs to be stood down – and there is no chance he will do that.

The only way that de Belin won’t be playing is if he stands down of his own volition for mental health reasons.

Dragons insiders say they are watching him carefully, but it will be up to de Belin to make any decision not to play.

That would only change if the Australian Rugby League Commission came in over the top of Greenberg and forced de Belin to stand down. It would be a massive call for the ARLC to do that.

The Dragons are sticking solid with their legal advice. They are not making formal statements. They won’t be provoked by inflammatory comments.

At the CEOs meeting in Melbourne on Friday, AFL boss Gillon McLachlan answered questions from NRL club bosses about the AFL’s policy for dealing with such situations and were told it is the same as the NRL: the player is presumed innocent until proven otherwise and is free to play.

In rugby league, it’s the Brett Stewart rule. The NRL has copped heaps for the way it handled the Stewart case.

He was accused of sexual assault almost 10 years ago, was stood down for four weeks and Manly were fined $100,000. It’s still a sore point with the Eagles. Stewart was found not guilty.

Not wavering: Todd Greenberg is under pressure to stand down Jack de Belin.

Not wavering: Todd Greenberg is under pressure to stand down Jack de Belin.

The NRL will stick to the line that they only stood Stewart down because of his drunken behaviour; that it had nothing to do with the sexual assault allegation.

It may be why they never apologised to him. Since that time any player facing court is allowed to play if they plead not guilty.

It is hard to believe a player on such serious charges can be allowed to play. I can’t even begin to fathom what the alleged victims or their families must think.

There are so many victims in the sexual assault allegations cases and we won’t list them all.

The obvious ones are the alleged victims. Another woman suffering is de Belin’s partner, Alyce Taylor. She is heavily pregnant and is standing by her partner of six years.

De Belin has been acting upbeat and macho at training, but he has crumbled at times away from his teammates. The Dragons have provided counselling to support him.

There are genuine concerns for de Belin’s wellbeing. This is a key reason why the Dragons have taken the view not to stand him down. They think football is essential to his wellbeing.

Plenty of others in the game say otherwise. The fans will be brutal. Don’t think we are being sympathetic to de Belin. We are just dealing with the facts. We have been told that without football he has nothing.

We have heard the graphic details from his accuser and from Jarryd Hayne’s accuser. The DNA tests and other such forensic evidence is yet to emerge, as is the defence of both players.

In the Hayne case, it will be alleged that after the sexual assault took place, Hayne sat on the couch and watched a few minutes of the 2018 grand final with the mother of the alleged victim.

In the de Belin case, I have been told it will be argued that he went to a nightclub with the girl after the alleged events took place.

If there is any truth to the accusations levelled against Hayne and de Belin the last thing they should be thinking of is their career.