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Dragons coach Paul McGregor would have selected Jack de Belin for round one if NRL didn't stand him down

Sporting News logo Sporting News 4 days ago
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St George Illawarra coach Paul McGregor says he would have selected Jack de Belin for round one if the star lock wasn't stood down by the NRL.

De Belin, who is defending a rape allegation, is currently suspended from playing under the game's new 'no-fault stand down policy' that applies to players charged with serious offences.

Asked whether he would have chosen de Belin to face the Cowboys on Saturday despite the charge if the NRL hadn't taken the decision out of his hands, McGregor simply responded: "Yeah".

A reporter continued to press on the topic but McGregor wasn't in the mood to delve further into hypotheticals.

"He's been stood down, so he's not playing in round one," the Dragons mentor said.

a close up of a man in a baseball game: Jack de Belin © Provided by Perform Media Channels Limited Jack de Belin

De Belin launched legal action against the NRL and ARLC last week in a bid to overturn his ban.

He was initially seeking a temporary injunction on the no-fault rule that would have allowed him to play round one.

But the NSW forward withdrew that application, though he is still fighting the NRL's decision. A final hearing on the matter is now scheduled for April 16 in Federal Court.

McGregor refused to speculate on whether de Belin would have been mentally ready to play this weekend if he had secured an injunction.

"That's questionable. And I can't give you the answer because I don't need to – because he's not playing," he said.

Keen to talk about football, McGregor added that de Belin's absence is no different than a player prevented from taking the field with an injury.

"It's like getting an injury in your team. You just get on with it," he said bluntly.

"We are – you [the media] aren't unfortunately because we're talking about it again today."

a man wearing a black shirt: #Paul McGregor © Provided by Perform Media Channels Limited #Paul McGregor

The St George Illawarra head honcho denied de Belin's situation is distracting the side, who are tipped as premiership contenders after reaching week two of the finals last year.

"It's pretty easy [to look past] to be honest because it's out of our control," he said.

"We go to training and nothing changes. We're just one player down, so we just move on with what's needed to be done.

"Jack's still a part of our group, unfortunately he's not available to play.

"So the person that comes in gets a good opportunity and an opening in a position."

Key second-rower Tyson Frizell has shifted to lock to replace de Belin against the Cowboys in Townsville, while 22-year-old Jacob Host has been promoted to a starting second-row role.

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