NRL give Dragons the green light to replace de Belin

St George Illawarra will have the opportunity to go to market for a Jack de Belin replacement after the NRL granted a dispensation to replace the stood down star forward.

The Dragons will have up to $239,000 to spend on a new forward, the amount the Red V is paying him for the remainder of the season. De Belin, who has pleaded not guilty to aggravated sexual assault, is sidelined until the conclusion of his criminal court case.

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De Belin was the first player stood down under the NRL’s ‘no fault’ policy, which withstood a Federal Court legal challenge from the 28-year-old.

The game’s tough new stance on player behaviour was deemed valid by Justice Melissa Perry, although the Rugby League Players’ Association has issued the NRL a dispute, citing a lack of consultation as required under the collective bargaining agreement.


While the Dragons have been given the approval to seek a replacement for de Belin, there are few options on the open market.

Some clubs seeking to free up salary cap space before June 30 may be interested in offloading a player, although the situation could be complicated if de Belin is acquitted.

Trent Merrin has been linked to a return to the Dragons after struggling in his Super League stint with Leeds but he would need to take a sizeable pay cut in order to return to the NRL.

The Herald revealed the Dragons had asked the NRL to pay for de Belin’s replacement, although it’s unlikely head office will foot the bill.