Why the Warriors shouldn’t be talking about signing Jack de Belin

Dragons forward Jack De Belin is one of the Warriors' top targets for next season, if he is cleared in court. Picture: STUFF SPORTS

Incoming Warriors coach Nathan Brown should hold fire on any talk of bringing Jack de Belin to the Auckland club.

Brown told Nine’s The Sunday Footy Show last weekend that de Belin would be “an outstanding” acquisition for the Warriors if the Dragons and New South Wales prop is acquitted of rape charges this year.

De Belin’s name has been linked to the Warriors since a Sydney Morning Herald report that the club was prepared to offer him $200,000 more than his $595,000 a year Dragons deal if he successfully defends five rape charges.

Not only is “outstanding acquisition” an unwise phrase to apply to a man facing serious sexual assault charges, Brown would be best to heed the words of the Warriors’ new consultant, Phil Gould.

The former NSW State of Origin coach warned in July it would be “very, very premature” for any club to be talking about signing de Belin before his court case is resolved.

De Belin hasn’t played in the NRL since a 19-year-old woman alleged she was sexually attacked by the Dragon and another man, Callan Sinclair, at a unit in North Wollongong in December 2018.

In 2019, it was reported that de Belin and Sinclair were charged with four counts of aggravated sexual assault in company, and a single charge of aggravated sexual assault in company, causing actual bodily harm.

The last charge carries a maximum term of 20 years imprisonment, according to the 2019 report.

De Belin and Sinclair have pleaded not guilty. A potential trial in a Wollongong court has been set down for three weeks in November.

Pre-trial legal arguments were presented on behalf of both men in July.

Australian newspapers have reported that Judge Andrew Haesler, after hearing more than three weeks of evidence and submissions, will deliver his decision in the pre-trial case on August 28.

De Belin’s immediate future – and freedom – hinges on the outcome of the case.

Even if acquitted, de Belin would still have to satisfy the NRL that he’s a fit and proper person for re-registration.

Without the NRL’s nod, no club can employ him.

The NRL has taken a hardline approach to players involved in alleged criminal action, or who bring the sport into disrepute.

De Belin unsuccessfully challenged the NRL’s no-fault stand-down policy, but his quest for reinstatement was struck out by the courts in May 2019 – two months before his rape charges were filed.

 

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