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De Belin cleared to play NRL again after charges formally withdrawn

St George Illawarra forward Jack de Belin is eligible to play for the rest of the 2021 season after charges against him were formally withdrawn on Friday.

NRL CEO Andrew Abdo confirmed on Thursday the NRL had received correspondence from de Belin's legal representatives indicating the matter would not proceed to a third trial.

On Friday morning prosecutors withdrew four charges against de Belin, who had had been automatically stood down under the ARL Commission’s "no-fault stand down" rule since 2019 after being charged with serious criminal offences.

The NRL has registered de Belin’s contract, on a deal which de Belin and St George Illawarra agreed upon last year, with the club indicating he would line up in NSW Cup against Wests at Lidcombe Oval on Saturday.

The former NSW Origin forward could also join the club's NRL squad for training from Monday.

Abdo said on Thursday that once all charges are formally withdrawn, de Belin could return to playing NRL.

"The ‘no-fault stand down' rule upholds the values of the game, protects the game's commercial relationships and provides safeguards for the very small number of players who find themselves the subject of serious criminal charges," Abdo said.

Abdo addresses de Belin decision

"We make no apology for taking the hardest stance in Australian sport where our players are charged with serious criminal offences. We cannot remain indifferent to such charges, particularly those against women.

"This is an example of our processes working. Jack continued to be employed by the club and was able to extend his contract with the Dragons.

"The rule worked as it should. Once there are no longer charges against him, Jack will be free to play. Our welfare team will continue to liaise closely with the Dragons."

Dragons CEO Ryan Webb said de Belin would be considered for selection in first grade as early as next Thursday night's clash with Brisbane but he said it could be several weeks before he was ready to play at NRL level.

Andrew Abdo addresses the media over Jack de Belin at Rugby League Central.
Andrew Abdo addresses the media over Jack de Belin at Rugby League Central. ©Grant Trouville/NRL Photos

"He will join the first grade squad for training from next week and he will be available to play from them on but that will just depend on form.

"He is a young man who has been out of the game for a couple of years now so I expect there will be a few weeks needed in reserve grade to work his way back but that will be up to the coaching staff to make that call."

De Belin has not played since September 15, 2018 in the second week of the NRL finals series against South Sydney and it will have been 987 days from his last match if he takes the field against the Magpies.

Webb said the former NSW lock was in good physical condition as he had been training with the NSW Cup team and on his own while awaiting a decision  by the NSW DPP on whether to proceed with a third trial.

However, the club wants to ensure he is also mentally prepared for an NRL return before coach Anthony Griffin selects him for the top team.

"Physically Jack is in great condition but he has been training with reserve grade and been training on his own so that is a lot different to being out there and playing in matches week to week so I think there is still a bit of learning to go through for everyone," Webb said.

"It will take days now, if not weeks, for someone to get back into the groove of day to day life and back as an NRL player.

"For us, our focus has always been on his welfare and it will continue to be, not just for him and his family and people around him, who have been impacted pretty heavily.

"There  are a lot of people around the club who this also impacts on so we will be keeping an eye on them and taking care of them."

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