St George Illawarra forward Jack de Belin has proclaimed his innocence in the wake of the NRL bringing in a ‘no-fault stand down’ policy.
The Dragons star has been charged with sexual assault following an incident in Wollongong in December.
De Belin has pleaded not guilty to the charges, but he has been banned from playing under the ‘no-fault stand down policy’ which has been introduced by the NRL.
“Rugby league has always been a big part of my life, I love the game,” he said.
“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.”
NRL chief executive Todd Greenberg confirmed de Belin would be the first player to be banned from playing under the new ‘no-fault stand down’ policy.
The new ruling will give the NRL the power to place a player facing serious criminal charges on a ‘no-fault stand down’ until the end of finalisation of any court proceedings.
“He’ll be stood down under the no-fault policy. He cannot play until the competition of that case,” Greenberg said.
“This policy ensures he doesn’t play but can continue to train.”