De Belin comeback on the cards for next week

St George Illawarra Dragons coach Anthony Griffin has revealed Jack de Belin could make his return to first grade duties as soon as next Thursday.

It was revealed today de Belin would be free to make his return to the field after the Director of Public Prosecutions opted not to pursue a third trial on sexual assault charges.

The 30-year-old hasn’t played an NRL game since he was charged in late 2018, the same year he played all three State of Origin games for New South Wales. He will now play his first competitive match this weekend for the Dragons against Western Suburbs at reserve grade level.

De Belin was barred from taking to the field under the NRL’s No-Fault Stand Down policy, which automatically stands down a player with serious criminal charges that carries a jail sentence of more than 11 years.

While de Belin hasn’t played a game for more than two-and-a-half years, he has continued to train with the club and completed a mini pre-season over the past two months.

Griffin confirmed the back-rower would be in line to make first grade return as soon as Round 13 next Thursday when the Dragons clash with the Broncos at Jubilee Stadium.

“Obviously if he plays well and can handle the minutes [against the Magpies], we’ll have a look at it,” he told the Sydney Morning Herald.

“He’s been cleared to play so we’ll work on getting him back into the NRL as soon as possible.

“The first step will be Saturday. We’ll get through the next couple of days, get him a game on Saturday and see where we are at. It’s a boost to have him on our list.”

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