Jack de Belin was in tears leaving the field last night as St George fans gave him a rousing reception in his first NRL game in nearly three years.
Sexual assault charges against the former NSW forward were dropped after the Director of Public Prosecutions decided he would not face a third trial, following two previous trials that ended with hung juries.
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De Belin celebrated his return for the Dragons with a 52-24 win at home over the Broncos on Thursday night and while there were moments were his lack of football showed, the back-rower’s comeback ended in happy fashion.
According to league reporter Christian Nicolussi, the 30-year-old reportedly broke down on his way off the paddock, as he was the last Dragons players to head into the sheds. Loud cheers and applause could be heard as he made his way from the field.
Jack de Belin in tears as he’s last @NRL_Dragons player to come from field … pic.twitter.com/zUOqVyvhr6
De Belin made 61m from eight runs and received a standing ovation when he came off the bench to mark the end of his 992-day exile from the NRL.
Journalist Luke Cooper said: “There’s a lot to not like in that standing ovation for Jack de Belin’s coming on the field and re-entering the NRL. I’ll leave it at that.”
At the end of the game, de Belin embraced and kissed his partner Alyce Taylor, who has remained by his side throughout his lengthy legal ordeal.
De Belin sealed his return with a kiss (photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images).Source:Getty Images
It was an emotional night for the entire family (photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images).Source:Getty Images
De Belin showed in 26 minutes what the Dragons had missed while he was out, but it was Matt Dufty’s performance that had the Red V faithful on their feet demanding management to re-sign him.
The off-contract fullback is sensationally unwanted by the club beyond this season, but showed on Thursday why he looms as one of the best attacking weapons on the open market as he and Ben Hunt tore Brisbane’s defence to shreds.
In his first game back from a shoulder injury, the gun No. 1 continued his attacking hot-streak with five try-assists and two of his own against a team that could do with his services in 2022.
Dufty used his blistering speed to set up Jack Bird, delivered a perfect pass to send Gerard Beale on his way and then embarrassed Jamayne Isaako in the shadows of halftime when he caught the fullback napping to ground a Corey Norman grubber.
He produced another peach of a pass to set up Cody Ramsey — the man who dropped a simple bomb and is tipped to replace him at the back next season — and then backed up a Hunt break to cap the best game of his career.
Many fans were happy to see de Belin back in action (photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images).Source:Getty Images
He was thankful to be back doing what he loves (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images).Source:Getty Images
With Martin Gabor, NCA NewsWire
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