The NRL has cleared Dylan Walker to resume playing and defended it’s no-fault stand down policy in the face of criticism after the Manly centre was acquitted in court.
Walker is free to play for the first time this season when Manly play Cronulla on Sunday, having missed the first nine rounds while his domestic violence charges were dealt with by the courts.
NRL CEO Todd Greenberg on Monday cleared Walker to return after an NRL integrity unit review of the court documents surrounding his acquittal last week.
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Greenberg said the case had successfully demonstrated how the new no-fault stand down rule protects the reputation of the game.
“We always said that we make no judgement on the guilt or innocence of any player stood down under this rule,” he said.
“That is a matter for the courts and, in this case, Dylan has been acquitted of the charges and is free to return to the game.
“We thank the Manly club for its support of the new rule and wish Dylan the best for the rest of the season.
“It is clear the no fault stand down rule enables us to protect the reputation of the game while charges are heard – so it is doing its job.”
Greenberg reiterated the rule would only be used where players are charged with serious offences.
“We hope to use it very sparingly – only for the most serious cases – but we believe it is already proving successful in protecting the reputation of the game,” he said.
Australian Rugby League Commission chairman Peter Beattie also claimed the Walker case showed the no-fault stand down rule was fair.
“Clearly the Dylan Walker case demonstrates that this policy did not prejudice players before the court,” he said.
He believed the policy would, over time, lead to improved player behaviour.
“This is about protecting the whole game and all players. If the game loses value players will be paid less,” Beattie said.
“That is how it works. It is that simple.
“I am not backing down on this policy and nor is the ARLC.”
© AAP 2019