Jack de Belin, Dragons interview, Peter V’landys investigation

NRL supremo Peter V’landys is not happy over revelations surrounding the interview that left Dragons star Jack de Belin in tears.

Details have emerged surrounding the heavily media-managed interview when de Belin fronted the media for the first time in over three years earlier this month, speaking with a select group of journalists at WIN Stadium.

Four journalists were hand-picked for the interview and the interview was closed to other media agencies.

None of the reporters were women.

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In May last year, the Director of Public Prosecutions withdrew sexual assault charges against de Belin and his co-accused Callan Sinclair following two District Court trials which ended in hung juries. Both men consistently maintained they were innocent and had pleaded not guilty to all charges.

After a three-year hiatus from the NRL, de Belin made his long-awaited return to professional rugby league last season, playing 11 games for the Dragons in 2021.

But after refusing to discuss the court case with the media for more than three years, de Belin finally broke his silence on the eve of the 2022 premiership, claiming he never considered the possibility of spending the rest of his life in prison.

He also raised eyebrows when he said: “I’m not necessarily saying I’m sorry”.

The circumstances surrounding the interview have now left V’landys unhappy with the Dragons.

V’landys has told The Sydney Morning Heraldhe contacted the club to demand answers.

“We want as many women in the game, and they should always feel comfortable and encouraged,” V’landys said.

Dragons NRL player Jack De Belin during a media conference. Picture James Corman.Source: Supplied

“I won’t go into the subject of it, but they should just have a standard policy to invite all journalists to media conferences and, in particular, they should encourage and support female journalists.

“Anything to the contrary would be completely stupid.

“I hope the St George club have learnt from this.”

Dragons chairman Craig Young said he had not been informed about how the interview was set to be conducted.

De Belin was left in tears at one point during the interview.

“The darkest moment was definitely going to the police station,’’ he told reporters at the time.

“I had no idea I was going to get charged. I thought I was just going down there to have a chat.

“But being charged and arrested when I arrived was definitely the darkest time.

“I never once thought about spending time behind bars. It just wasn’t a possibility in my mind that I wouldn’t be there to spend time with my girls.

Jack De Belin and the Dragons won their season-opener against the Warriors. Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images.Source: Getty Images

“I never really took any interest in that whole situation. I don’t know if it was my ego or just blind optimism, but I never once thought of ever going to jail.

“I think that’s maybe what kept me strong.

“The people who know me and who are in my inner circle know for a fact I’d never do anything like what I’ve been accused of.

“I can hold my head high.”

The 30-year-old conceded he was disappointed not to receive a not-guilty verdict on five of six charges related to the alleged sexual assault of a 19-year-old woman in Wollongong in December 2018.

“I’ve always stated my innocence from the get-go and that’s what gave me my strength, my innocence and knowing I didn’t do the wrong thing,’’ he said.

“Initially I was because that’s the only thing I ever expected, a full acquittal.

“My mind was not prepared for (a hung jury).

“That’s probably when it initially hurt me the most, especially for someone like Callan (Sinclair) as well. He was in the same situation as me and we didn’t expect to have that.

“These are the times we live in. The charges have been dismissed and dropped. As I’ve said, I’ve stated my innocence from the get-go and I stand by that.’’

De Belin broke down in tears when asked how the sexual assault trials had impacted his young family.

“It’s one of the most amazing things to become a father,’’ he said.

“I just love them so much. I love my girls so much.

“Being there, in their lives and being a good role model as a father is something I’m definitely striving to do.

“I was a bit selfish for a while there. I suppose a lot of football players are, you have to be if you’re a professional athlete.

“I was a bit consumed in my own life and what was best for me without putting others first.

“To now have two children – it just blows your mind, that it’s not all about you.

“I’m not necessarily saying I’m sorry, things happened and have panned out the way they have.

“I am sorry my family got put through this whole situation, (and) my friends.

“Those are mistakes you make.

“That’s something I look back on and, in the three years since I made that mistake, I’ve learned a lot about myself.

Meanwhile, de Belin said it was “up to the NRL to decide” whether to scrap the controversial no-fault stand-down policy that kept him sidelined for nearly three years.