De Belin stood down by NRL

St George Illawarra Dragons forward Jack de Belin has been stood down by the NRL as he contests a charge of aggravated sexual assault.

The 27-year-old will be placed on a "no-fault stand-down" ahead of the season after a policy change by the NRL.

NRL chief executive Todd Greenberg said De Belin would be sidelined until his court case is finalised.

"I stress that the NRL is making no judgement on the guilt or innocence of the player," he said on Thursday.

"That is not our role. That is the job of the courts – and it will remain so.

"But we have to be in a position to take action when allegations are so serious that it would damage the reputation of the game if that player was allowed to take the field.

"And that is what we have done in this case."

De Belin pleaded not guilty to a charge of aggravated sexual assault in a Wollongong court earlier this month. The matter has been adjourned to April 17.

The Rugby League Players' Association (RLPA) is unhappy with the policy change, but ruled out industrial action.

"It remains our view that any policy change must be agreed with the RLPA," chief Ian Prendergast said.

"Whilst we have been consulted, it is obvious that we do not agree to the proposed changes.

"That is a matter we will engage the commission and NRL on in the coming days and weeks, as well as considering our options legally and through the CBA dispute process.

"As always, we will support our members to explore any legal options they may have available to them.

"We are not ignorant to the hurt that these matters cause the game and are committed to working with the NRL and clubs to repair the damage that has been done.

"However, we continue to query whether this change will genuinely have the desired impact of rebuilding public trust and confidence in the game."

In a statement, De Belin said: "Rugby league has always been a big part of my life, I love the game. I am innocent and will vigorously defend the charge against me.

"I want to thank my partner, family, friends, the club, members, sponsors and fans for the support they have given me during this difficult time."

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