NRL news 2022: Jack de Belin explains female journalist debacle

St George Illawarra forward Jack de Belin has explained why no female reporters attended his first media conference in over three years.

St George Illawarra forward Jack de Belin has explained why no female reporters attended his first media conference in over three years, claiming he had “no control” over who was present.

Last month, the 31-year-old faced the media for the first time since his sexual assault charges were dropped, speaking to a select group of journalists in a heavily-managed media opportunity at WIN Stadium.

Four journalists were hand-picked for the interview, none of which were women.

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The circumstances surrounding the interview frustrated Australian Rugby League Commission Peter V’landys, who contacted the Dragons to demand answers.

“We want as many women in the game, and they should always feel comfortable and encouraged,” he told the Sydney Morning Herald at the time.

“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 learned from this.”

Dragons chairman Craig Young claimed he had not been informed about how the interview would be conducted.

Speaking to 9News on Wednesday, de Belin addressed the controversial media conference for the first time.

“To be honest I had no idea about that. That’s the club, they arranged for that (interview) to happen,” he said.

“I didn’t put any thought into it, but obviously hearing that, it would have been nice to have a female reporter, and get her perspective on things, ask a few questions.

“But that was out of my control. I can see why people might have been frustrated, or it didn’t look (good).

“But I had no control over that, and if there were 20 female reporters there I would have been happy to answer their questions.”

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.

“The darkest moment was definitely going to the police station,” he told reporters last month.

“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.

“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.”

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