Former Australian netball star Liz Ellis has offered some controversial advice for NRL players - and Jack de Belin, in particular.
Player behaviour remains firmly in the spotlight after de Belin’s failed Federal Court bid for an injunction against the NRL’s ‘no fault’ stand down policy.
Manly’s Dylan Walker returned to the field over the weekend after he was found not guilty of a domestic violence charge, while de Belin has entered a not guilty plea to a charge of aggravated sexual assault.
A fierce debate was sparked on Channel 9 program Sports Sunday when co-host Todd Woodbridge suggested the NRL policy would “change the dynamics of every sport in Australia”.
Woodbridge said other sporting codes would likely look to add similar rules - a move Ellis said she would welcome.
The former Australian captain said women were constantly told they had to make sure they weren’t in a position where they could be sexually assaulted, and that perhaps male players should consider that in their own actions.
“I think if you are charged with something like this, you cannot reasonably expect to turn up to work and have the fans cheer for you,” she said.
“Don’t forget, the fans are our greatest stakeholders.
“I don’t like the process, but I like the outcome.
“I know people will say what if someone makes a false charge against a player. Let me say this, women are constantly told to take care about not being sexually assaulted.
“We constantly are told not to put ourselves in a situation. Don’t walk home by yourself at night. Don’t go to a party where there might be alcohol. Don’t wear revealing stuff. It is wrong, wrong, wrong.
“But if women are constantly being told that, here is a tip for NRL players: don’t put yourself in a situation where you might be wrongfully accused.
“Have some situational awareness. If it is good enough for every female on the planet, it is good enough for male players.”
‘I’d be no chance’
Ellis had another ally on the panel, with co-host Peter FitzSimons backing up her stance.
He said a similar standard would be applied to him as a broadcaster were he to be charged with such a serious crime.
“If I was accused of serious domestic violence and I was charged by the police with serious smack, smack domestic violence, what are the chances that you would speak up and say innocent until proven guilty, he should take his place next Sunday?” FitzSimons asked.
“I would be no chance.
“Channel 9 would stand me - they would be legally, do it legally, carefully, but I would be no chance.
“Again, in so many other public areas of life, if you are charged with a serious crime, you are not going to show up, so why should it be different for a sportsperson?”