St George Illawarra striker Jack de Belin has explained why no female reporter attended his first press conference in more than three years, saying he had “no control” over who attended.
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 reporters at a heavily-run media opportunity at WIN Stadium .
Four journalists were handpicked for the interview, none of whom were women.
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The circumstances surrounding the interview have frustrated Australian Rugby League committee Peter V’landys, who have contacted the Dragons demanding 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 that, but they should just have a standard policy to invite all journalists to press conferences and, in particular, they should encourage and support female journalists.
“Anything to the contrary would be completely stupid.
“Hopefully the St George club have learned from this.”
Dragons chairman Craig Young said he was not told how the interview would go.
Talk to 9News On Wednesday, de Belin addressed the controversial press conference for the first time.
“To be honest, I had no idea. It’s the club, they arranged for this (interview) to take place,” he said.
“I didn’t think about it, but obviously, hearing that, it would have been nice to have a female journalist, to have her perspective on things, to ask a few questions.
“But it was out of my control. I can see why people might have gotten 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 dropped sexual assault charges against de Belin and his co-defendant Callan Sinclair following two district court trials that ended in hung juries. . Both men have consistently maintained that they are innocent and have 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, making 11 appearances 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, saying he had never considered the possibility of spend the rest of his life in prison.
“The darkest moment was definitely going to the police station,” he told reporters last month.
“I didn’t know I was going to be charged. I thought I was just going over there to have a chat.
“But being charged and arrested when I arrived was definitely the darkest moment.
“I never thought about spending time behind bars. It just wasn’t a possibility in my mind that I wasn’t there to spend time with my daughters.
“I never really cared about this whole situation. I don’t know if it was my ego or just blind optimism, but I never thought about going to jail.
“I think maybe that’s what kept me strong.
“People who know me and who are part of my entourage know full well that I would never do something like what I am accused of.
“I can hold my head up high.”