Who V’landys admires most out of de Belin saga

NRL boss Peter V’landys is making no apologies for the fact Jack de Belin has been sidelined for more than two seasons, as the Dragons forward prepares for his rugby league return.

The Office of the Department of Public Prosecutions yesterday confirmed de Belin would not face a third trial on sexual assault charges, after two juries were unable to reach a verdict on five of the six charges against the 30-year-old. He was found not guilty of a sixth charge.

He’s expected to return to the field this weekend in the NSW Cup, ahead of a possible NRL comeback next weekend.

Under the NRL’s no-fault stand down policy, de Belin hasn’t played since he was charged in late 2018.

The policy, which was implemented during the reign of former ARLC chairman Peter Beattie, is here to stay, according to V’landys.

“Absolutely I feel sorry for Jack, but what we had to do as a game, we had a very serious position, being custodians of the game, and we have to consider the game as a whole,” V’landys told Radio 2GB’s Ben Fordham.

“I think the way Peter Beattie did it is one of the greatest bits of leadership I have seen in my career.

“We had a major problem, it had to be addressed, our commercial partners were threatening us, and we had to consider the game as a whole.

“That’s exactly what we did, and we took one of the toughest stances in Australian sport, we had to, and we protected the game.”

V’landys admitted the delay wasn’t ideal, noting that under a best-case scenario de Belin’s situation would have been resolved much earlier.

“You have to remember we also had a pandemic in the middle of it, so COVID didn’t exactly help the situation,” he explained.

“There was some challenges in the courts that delayed it as well, it was unfortunate.”

The return of de Belin comes as former St George Illawarra coach Paul McGregor concedes the turmoil surrounding the sexual assault charges likely cost him his job.

McGregor was shown the door by the Dragons in 2020 after a horror run for the club.

“I read somewhere a distracted team will never reach its potential and we were distracted the whole time,” McGregor told News Corp.

“There is no doubt about that.

“Jack is the type of person that lights up a room. He is the energy.

“It is not an excuse but it is the truth.”

McGregor called for a change to the stand down policy, arguing the NRL should pay the salary of any player who is subject to a stand down order, freeing up salary cap space for the club.

“You can’t make decisions for clubs and penalise them for decisions they don’t make, and that is what has happened in this case,” he explained.

“It was something that had never happened before yet they made a rule and the club paid the price.”

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