Jack de Belin to make NRL return after shock inclusion

·Sports Reporter
·3-min read
Jack de Belin (pictured) during his return to the NSW Cup.
Jack de Belin (pictured) is set to make his NRL return this week. (Getty Images)

The Dragons have named Jack de Belin in their NRL squad for this weekend's clash against Brisbane after his return to reserve grade last week.

De Belin impressed in his return to rugby league via reserve grade last week after 987 days on the sideline through the NRL's no-fault stand-down policy as he faced sexual assault charges.

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The prosecution's decision to withdraw the case and not pursue a third trial came too late for the 30-year-old to be named in the NRL last week, instead giving him the NSW Cup hit-out.

De Belin played his first game in more than two-and-a-half years, getting through 45 minutes unscathed in the Dragons' NSW Cup side.

Despite claims from coach Anthony Griffin that it was 'premature' for the lock to return as early as this weekend, de Belin has been named on the bench at Kogarah on Thursday night in the No.17 jersey.

That means de Belin will make his return to NRL footy after just two training sessions with the top squad, before Thursday night's game.

While the game has become faster in de Belin's absence, due to multiple rule changes, Griffin is confident the lock will be able to adapt.

"He's a pretty smart player. He will fit in no risk to team structures and things like that," Griffin said.

"He's a mobile forward and can play long minutes."

Matt Dufty will also make an early return from a shoulder injury for the Dragons at fullback, while Mikaele Ravalawa has displaced Jordan Pereira on the wing.

Brisbane have again dropped Anthony Milford, with Tyson Gamble returning from a suspension in the halves.

Penrith lose seven to Origin

Elsewhere Penrith will debut prop Lindsay Smith and teenage second-rower Izack Tago off the bench as part of a depleted pack.

Despite losing seven players to State of Origin camps and suspension, the Panthers still boast a halves combination of Matt Burton and Tyrone May.

Robert Jennings has also beaten Brent Naden for a wing spot, with their back five still competitive against any other in the NRL.

However Moses Leota's suspension hurts them most up front, with only two of their normal starting pack left for Friday's clash with Wests Tigers.

Matt Burton (pictured) is tackled during the round 11 NRL match between the South Sydney Rabbitohs and the Penrith Panthers.
Matt Burton (pictured) will shift into the halves for Penrith this weekend. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

The biggest name to debut across the league is Preston Campbell's 21-year-old son Jayden, who will run out at fullback for Gold Coast against Melbourne.

Ash Taylor has also recovered from a hip injury to reclaim his No.7 jersey.

Melbourne's injury crisis in recent weeks means there are minimal changes in their side, despite having five Origin representatives.

with AAP

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