De Belin to stay at Dragons after taking up final year
Jack de Belin is poised to stay at St George Illawarra for next season, after his management told club officials the forward planned to take up an option for 2024.
De Belin is one of several Dragons who are technically free agents for next season, as the club attempts to plan their roster despite a lack of clarity on their next coach.
The Dragons forward has long had an option in his favour to stay after inking a new deal in 2021 but had until the end of May to take that up.
AAP has been told the former NSW State of Origin representative's management have informed the Dragons they intend to do so, with formalities still to be completed.
De Belin's decision to remain at the Dragons comes after they re-signed him while he was stood down for two-and-a-half years while defending sexual assault accusations.
He was eventually acquitted on one count, and had four other charges dropped following two hung juries.
The 32-year-old remains adamant he has several years ahead of him as a player.
"I am still fresh, I pretty much missed three years of the game. I have always looked after my body," he said last month.
"I love the Dragons and have only ever envisaged myself being a one-club man.
"The club has been loyal to me and I have been loyal to the club. It's a two-way street, and we have both been good to each other.
"I would like to think it continues on in the future."
The news comes a day after de Belin captained the Dragons for the first time, in the club's 26-12 loss to the Dolphins on Thursday night.
De Belin's decision adds further clarity around the roster at a club that has struggled to attract marquee talent for next year amid uncertainty over the coaching position.
There remains some hope the Dragons may land Jason Ryles mid-season to replace the axed Anthony Griffin, if they are able to agree terms with the Sydney Roosters assistant.
The Roosters would be unlikely to stand in Ryles' way.
If Ryles was to head to Wollongong early, it would allow him to begin planning for next year almost immediately.
De Belin's decision to stay will leave the Dragons with six vacant spots on their roster. Mikaele Ravalawa and Michael Molo also have options for next season.