NEW Dragons coach Anthony Griffin insists the prolonged saga surrounding stood down star Jack de Belin won't be a distraction as he looks to reboot the club's fortunes next season.
De Belin will be sidelined for at least part of a third straight season after his trial on sexual assault charges in Wollongong District Court ended in a hung jury on Monday.
De Belin and co-accused Callan Sinclair have pleaded not guilty to five charges stemming from an alleged sexual assault of a 19-year-old woman in a Wollongong apartment in December 2018.
They'll now face a retrial in Sydney on April 12.
The Dragons, and the NRL, had hoped to see the matter resolved one way or another well in advance of the 2021 season, but the 29-year-old will now remain subject to the game's No Fault policy.
It's an inherited situation for Griffin, but he says it's not weighing too heavily in the early stages of his new role.
"It doesn't impact me at all and I don't think it'll impact the club," Griffin said.
"Jack's been out of the game for two years now, it's a legal process I've got no control over and the club has not control over.
"We'll watch that and see what happens but, for me, it has no [impact] on how I operate or what I do.
"Right at the moment, it's something that's external to what's happening here.
"I get the feeling through the club that everyone wishes him well with what happens in the future but, in the end, he's got a legal issue he needs to deal with and the courts will take care of that.
"Jack and the girl involved are going through a legal process that's got nothing to do with me.
"If I had any control over it I might get frustrated but I've got no control over it at all."
De Belin's NRL contract has expired but he is free to resume training duties with the Dragons under an in-principle agreement signed prior to his trial beginning.
It's understood the decision on when he returns rests with de Belin and his management, but Griffin doesn't expect it to be swift.
"Not in the short-term I wouldn't think," Griffin said when asked if a return was imminent.
"He's got a legal battle on his hands and, personally, I respect that.
"That'll be his main focus at the moment I'd say, not training with the football team.
"He's in a legal battle and it's probably the furthest thing from his mind at the moment.
"He's just got to do what's right for him at the moment with his legal team and take care of that."
While de Belin won't be paid in full until the conclusion of legal proceedings, the in-principle arrangement gives the club little wriggle room in the recruitment market to fill the experience void left by Tyson Frizell and James Graham.
Griffin said roster and salary cap management is something he'll leave to others.
"I'm not too sure how that works, it's probably a question for [chief executive] Ryan Webb," Griffin said.
"I know he's spoken to Andrew Abdo over the last week or so about how that fits with dispensation on the cap but I can't really answer that one.
"I'll find out from Ryan Webb in due course as to how that affects our salary cap but, logically, it won't affect it if the NRL have stood him down.
"It's honestly not an issue for me. Jack hasn't [played] for two years so we don't have to replace him.
"Tyson Frizell, James Graham, Jacob Host have left, we've got Poasa Faamausili from the Roosters and he's trained really well, Jack Bird has come onto the list.
"I've got a lot of confidence in the guys that are here, [Blake] Lawrie, [Jackson] Ford, [Josh] Kerr's going to come back after Christmas.
"We've still got some [recruitment] capacity salary cap-wise and we'll fill that when we get the right people that we think are going to add to our list."
We depend on subscription revenue to support our journalism. If you are able, please subscribe here. If you are already a subscriber, thank you for your support.