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‘Take away the thing they love’, says NRL’s gender advisor

The NRL’s gender advisor has called for Jack de Belin to be benched until charges of sexual assault have gone through court. 

The St George-Illawarra and Origin star is accused of raping a 19-year-old woman in Wollongong in December.

De Belin, 27, has pleaded not guilty ahead of his next court appearance in April, meaning the matter could continue unresolved for more than a year.

However, Professor Catharine Lumby tells Chris Smith any player accused of a serious charge such as sexual assault or domestic violence should be stood aside on full pay.

“I believe in innocent until proven guilty… but I think that in any serious job you would expect to be stood aside.”

Professor Lumby believes the NRL should “take away the thing they love” for bringing the game into disrepute.

Click PLAY below to listen to the full interview

Paul Conlon is one of Australia’s top judges and for many years was the NRL Judiciary chairman.

He weighed into the debate going head to head with Catharine Lumby on the Ben Fordham Show.

Acting Judge Conlon believes those facing serious allegations should be allowed to play.

“The presumption of innocence applies to every citizen in the community, including rugby league players.”

Click PLAY below to listen to the debate

NRL clubs CEOs have met today in Melbourne to discuss player behaviour and a potential increase in punishments.

NRL CEO Todd Greenberg says “there is no doubt that we have to change as a game in terms of behaviour.”

The Weekend Edition’s John Stanley, a die-hard St George-Illawarra Dragons fan, weighs in on the polarising debate as well, from a supporter’s point of view.

“I feel very uncomfortable about letting him play.”

He and Erin agree that given his public profile, and the fact that he’s widely regarded as a “leader” in the game, he should be benched, with full pay.

They say that while presumption of innocence is of upmost importance, plenty of high profile figures have stood down from their positions when serious allegations are leveled against them, due to the attention and damage to the reputation of their office or position.

Erin also draws attention to the seriousness of the charges laid against Jack De Belin.

“Police don’t charge just anyone when an accusation is made. Police investigate very, very thoroughly…There a lot of things that are taken to police where charges are never laid because there’s no corroborative evidence.”

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