Rugby league-De Belin free to play once sexual assault charges are dropped - NRL

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(Fixes spelling of formally in paragraph 1, no other changes to text)

SYDNEY (Reuters) - Jack de Belin will be eligible to return to Australia's National Rugby League once sexual assault charges against him are formally dropped, the league said on Thursday.

The St George Illawarra Dragons forward was "stood down" by the NRL in early 2019 when he was charged with six counts of sexual assault. He and his co-accused denied any wrongdoing.

The men were tried twice on the charges but both trials ended with hung juries. They were found not guilty of one charge in the most recent trial.

De Belin's lawyers told the NRL on Thursday that they had been informed that the New South Wales prosecution service would not be pressing ahead with a third trial, leaving the 30-year-old free to return to the NRL.

"Once there are no longer charges against him, Jack will be free to play," NRL chief executive Andrew Abdo said in a statement. "Our welfare team will continue to liaise closely with the Dragons."

The Dragons said de Belin would stay at the club at least until the end of next season.

"Today's outcome concludes a tumultuous period for all involved in the Jack de Belin matter," Dragons chief executive Ryan Webb said.

(Reporting by Nick Mulvenney, editing by Michael Perry)

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