De Belin's co-accused faces ban from bush comp

Jack de Belin's co-accused faces being stood down from a bush competition as soon as next week after the Country Rugby League agreed in principle to adopt a policy similar to the NRL's no-fault stand-down rule.

The CRL board met on Friday and agreed to draft a new edict which will give them the discretion to stand down players accused of serious crimes until the judicial process has run its course. The policy will be used on a case-by-case basis.

It will pour over the wording of the NRL's no-fault stand-down rule – which withstood a Federal Court challenge from Dragons forward de Belin – before formalising its own policy.

It's likely to mean Callan Sinclair, who has also been charged with aggravated sexual assault, is likely to be the first bush player to be subject to the rule. Sinclair and de Belin have both pleaded not guilty to their charges.


"We're going to check what the wording is with the NRL as we've agreed to adopt the policy," CRL chief executive Terry Quinn said. "It will likely happen next week and we want it to happen as quickly as we can."


While de Belin trained for months in the hope of returning to the NRL before his Federal Court verdict, Sinclair made a low-key return earlier this season for the Shellharbour Sharks in the group 7 competition on the NSW south coast.

He was chosen in the Norway squad for a World Cup qualifier in London earlier this month. He was one of only two Australian-based players included in the Norwegian squad.

But under Sinclair's bail conditions he was forced to surrender his passport and unable to apply for a new one, meaning he was denied the chance to represent the tiny rugby league nation, which is bidding for inclusion in the 2021 tournament.

Sinclair is eligible for Norway because of his grandfather's heritage.

De Belin faces the prospect of being sidelined from the NRL until well into next year after his expensive legal bid to quash the no-fault stand-down policy was rejected by Justice Melissa Perry.

St George Illawarra coach Paul McGregor was hopeful de Belin was going to be cleared in time for the Dragons' clash against the Knights in Mudgee last week.

Sinclair's own court case will again appear before Wollongong Local Court next week.

Both he and de Belin were granted bail when charged after a complaint over an alleged incident inside a Wollongong apartment in December last year.

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