Stood down Dragon Jack De Belin is free to return to NRL pending final approval from the league after having his sexual assault charges dropped.
The 30-year old along with friend Callan Sinclair were earlier this month found not guilty on one of his six charges relating to the alleged sexual assault of a woman in Wollongong in 2018.
The jury was unable to reach a verdict on the other five charges and were dismissed - which marked the second time in six months a jury had not been able to reach a verdict in the pair's trial.
“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,’’ NRL CEO Andrew Abdo said in a statement.
“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.
“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 during the process.
“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.”
The Daily Telegraph reports that De Belin was informed of the Department of Public Prosecutions' decision on Thursday.
“Obviously we’re delighted that it’s all over. It’s been a tough journey,” De Belin’s Barrister David Campbell SC told The Daily Telegraph.
“We’d like to see everyone move on with their lives and do their best. I have faith in the legal system and the presumption of innocence has triumphed.”
It is unknown at this stage whether Sinclair has been cleared to make his NRL return.
But for De Belin, it means he is now eligible to take up a four-year deal he signed with the St George Illawarra Dragons reportedly worth around $3 million.
The forward has remained contracted to the Dragons during the two trials but has been stood down under the NRL's 'No-Fault Stand Down' policy.
He has made 154 first-grade appearances for the Red V since making his NRL debut in 2011, but has not played since the end of 2018.
The Dragons released the following statement on the matter.
"The Office of the Director of Public Prosecution (NSW) have advised that the Jack de Belin court matter will not proceed to a third trial.
"The NRL have confirmed the imminent expiration of de Belin's no-fault stand down sanction.
"Today's outcome concludes a tumultuous period for all involved in the Jack de Belin matter," Dragons CEO Ryan Webb said.
""I wish to thank the support received by our partners, members and fans throughout this entire process."
"The Dragons can also confirm that de Belin will remain at the club until at least the end of the 2023 season following the DPP's decision."
The Dragons have made the following statement regarding Jack de Belin #redv
— St George Illawarra Dragons (@NRL_Dragons) May 27, 2021