De Belin, News settle over 'grubs' article

·2-min read

Jack de Belin has dropped a defamation claim over a front-page story titled "Rub Out The Grubs" after the Daily Telegraph withdrew any suggestion the NRL forward was guilty of sexual assault.

The February 2019 article reported on Kangaroos coach Mal Meniga's call for de Belin and other players facing serious criminal charges to be banned from playing.

On Wednesday, as both sides agreed to end the case and pay their own costs, Nationwide News said its paper "did not intend to convey he was guilty of sexual assault and withdraws any suggestion to that effect".

"Now that the charges against Jack have been withdrawn, The Daily Telegraph wishes him the best for his playing future," the clarification states, according to agreed Federal Court orders.

The article was published three months after the St George Illawarra forward was charged with raping a 19-year-old in a Wollongong unit, but before the first of his two District Court trials.

Except for an acquittal on one charge, both trials ended with deadlocked juries, leading prosecutors to drop four outstanding charges in May.

In his defamation claim which was on hold pending the outcome of the criminal case, de Belin argued the Telegraph's article portrayed him as a rapist and a despicable person.

While acknowledging de Belin's not guilty pleas, the article pointed out Meninga had sacked Greg Inglis and Josh Papalii before drink-driving offences against the players were finalised by courts.

Meninga was quoted as saying there had to be "a presumption of innocence until found guilty" but that "anyone who goes outside the parameters and values deserves to be extinguished from our game."

"If we were picking an Australian team tomorrow he (de Belin) wouldn't even be in the picture. Not after what's alleged to have happened," he said, the Telegraph reported.

The publisher of the Daily Telegraph did not file a defence to de Belin's case before the case was settled.

The article was followed by the NRL's introduction of a no-fault stand-down policy that suspended players on full pay if they faced serious charges.

De Belin unsuccessfully challenged the policy in the Federal Court and was sidelined for the 2019 and 2020 seasons.

He ended a 992-day stint away from the game in June, eventually playing 11 matches as the Dragons finished 11th.

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