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Dragons coach Paul McGregor has made the following statement, in response to the NRL's decision to change the policy and stand down Jack de Belin.

"The Commission governs the game, and no doubt they have the greater good of the game at heart.

"In saying that though, Jack is the first NRL player in history to be denied the presumption of innocence without a witness or video evidence. He was charged in December so it's disappointing this decision has been made so close to the season commencing.

"There is no doubt that this has impacted Jack and his family. Jack maintains his innocence and draws strength from this. He also recognises that he will have his opportunity to defend himself in court.

"The playing group is unified and understandably have empathy for their mate. We are a very tight knit group who support each other and will continue to monitor Jack's wellbeing and welfare.

"We are awaiting further details and information from the NRL [in terms of salary cap relief] and as yet, there is no definitive answer. I'll leave it to Ian (Millward) and Brian (Johnston) to follow that up with the NRL and I'll continue to focus my attention on my current playing group.

"You don't replace a player like Jack. We will look from within first and foremost. The probability is that Tyson (Frizell) will move to lock and Luciano (Leilua) and Jacob (Host) will play edge back-row which will be a great opportunity for both players.

"Overall [this situation] is a distraction out of the players' control. We will focus on what we are good at and play to our strengths, and that is starting the season off on a positive note."

Acknowledgement of Country

St George Illawarra Dragons respect and honour the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders peoples, where our games are played, our programs are conducted and in the communities we support.

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