'I'd Stand Myself Down': NRL Chair Peter Beattie's Shock De Belin Admission
This is big. This is the strongest indication yet on how the NRL might deal with players charged with violence against women.
Ever since St George Illawarra player Jack de Belin was charged with rape, debate has raged over whether accused players should be free to play in the NRL.
Some argue that the presumption of innocence should take precedence over all else, while others argue that workers in other professions -- the police force is just one example -- often stand down while investigations are underway.
NRL Chair Peter Beattie on Tuesday made it clear that he falls into the camp that believes players should stand down until serious matters have been dealt with by the courts.
"If I was in a position like this, I would stand myself down," the former Queensland Premier said in an exclusive interview with 10 news First's Michael Cain.
"If I was involved in a matter like this -- which I wouldn’t be -- but if I was, I would stand down."
The Australian Rugby League Commission will meet on February 28. One of the main issues to be discussed is how to deal with players accused of violence against women.
"We’ll make certain that any offences involving women, any issues involving violence are just simply unacceptable for rugby league," Beattie said.
"You’ll hear more about it after the 28th, but there will be a clear decisive position going forward because frankly, we’ve had enough of this bad behaviour.
"Let me be very clear about this. The rugby league commissioners have a duty of care to our players but we also have a duty of care to the game, and that is the paramount consideration along with the consideration of player welfare."
Beattie said that the endless bad news stories in the NRL's summer from hell were doing the game a lot of damage -- and not just to its reputation, but to the financial bottom line.
"It’s affecting our ability to raise money and in the long term, that costs players money as well as the game," he said.
"Look, 2018 on the field was just fantastic. We’ve got some of the best athletes in the world playing rugby league and you couldn’t get a better competition. Yet you’ve got a tiny fraction of players who are damaging it for the rest.
"The governing body is not prepared to put up with it anymore.
"There’s a lot of outrage out there. This is not a time to run away. This is a time to come up with very clear rules for the future direction of the game."