NRL left Stewart out in the cold - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

NRL left Stewart out in the cold

By Joe Barton and Ben Horne 01/10/2010 03:08:10 AM Comments (0)

An emotional Brett Stewart has revealed the NRL offered no support to him during the most traumatic 18 months of his life.

Stewart, who was cleared by a jury of indecent and sexual assault charges on Wednesday, spoke for the first time about his relief at the verdict and of his desire to rebuild a tattered reputation.

But the star Manly fullback was critical of the NRL and their lack of support during the torturous ordeal which saw him suspended for the opening month of the 2009 season, dumped as the face of the NRL's advertising campaign and suffer two season-ending knee injuries.

"When the allegations came out, the NRL suspended me for four weeks and obviously I didn't say a word," Stewart told the Nine Network on Thursday.

Asked if anyone at the NRL had been in touch, Stewart responded swiftly: "No"

"No. No one. They still haven't," the stunned 25-year-old said.

When asked if he could believe that this would be the case, Stewart said: "I can believe it, yeah."

But with the help of family and friends, Stewart has emerged from the darkest period of his life with a weight lifted from his shoulders.

And he hopes to get his life back on track by rebuilding a reputation which has been muddied from months of intense media speculation.

"It's been very hard, but it was made public yesterday what I knew 18 months ago," Stewart told the Nine Network.

"(I've had) probably more low points than high. I've had a strong family around me.

"I've got mum and dad to thank for that.

"They're probably what got me through the low points ... My family, close friends and the (Manly) club as well.

"I can't change what's happened, but I can change the future."

The former Australian and NSW No.1 said he felt "not much" sympathy for the girl, who admitted in the trial to being diagnosed with a mental illness.

"I do feel sorry for her; that's pretty hard to say after what she's put me and my family through," he admitted.

"But she's obviously got a mental illness and there's some sympathy there, yeah. Not much."

Stewart also had a message for critics who suggested he was found not guilty as he was a high-profile footballer with the money to bankroll a top lawyer - a move which has left the footballer an estimated $200,000 out of pocket.

"I'd just have to disagree with them strongly," he said.

"In the courts, it's just out of your hands; it's just up to the 12 jurors.

"It's got nothing to do with how much money you've got or what you do (for a job). It's just the truth."

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