De Belin trial to shape Dragons’ season
Anthony Griffin and his new-look St George Illawarra coaching staff have kicked off pre-season preparations ahead of an imminent verdict in Jack de Belin's sexual assault trial, which could reshape the club's season.
If de Belin is allowed to return to the field, round one's start date of March 11 would mark 908 days since the backrower last played.
His last match was a semi-final against South Sydney on September 15, 2018.
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The former Brisbane and Penrith coach was joined by new assistants Matthew Elliott and former Brisbane Broncos interim coach Peter Gentle at training last week, as the trio got a glimpse of their squad for the first time.
Griffin, who was announced as coach in September after Paul McGregor was sacked, has also added Dragons premiership winner Jamie Soward as a specialist halves coach to his ensemble.
Former Broncos back Jack Bird has started training in the red and white after signing a two-year deal.
Bird is going through the final stages of his rehab after the Dragons junior suffered his second ACL in 10 months on the eve of last season. He will join the main group once medical staff are confident he can begin contact training.
Former Sydney Roosters forward Poasa Faamausili has also reported to training at Wollongong and spent his first week at the club being put through his paces.
There was one notable omission in rookie flyer Jason Saab, who has been granted leave from training for personal reasons. Saab still has two years left on his Dragons deal but is looking for an immediate release to link up with the Sea Eagles.
The Manly Sea Eagles and Wests Tigers have also started their pre-season preparations.
While the Tigers have announced a number of key signings for next season, the new recruits, including boom forward Stephano Utoikamanu, James Tamou and James Roberts will start arriving at training from late November.
Utoikamanu will report for his first pre-season under Michael Maguire on November 30. Tamou and Roberts aren't expected at training until the new year. The Tigers have also signed Penrith rookie Daine Laurie from season 2022 but are still hopeful he could be at the club as early as this pre-season.
The Sea Eagles unveiled one of their favourite sons in Kieran Foran, who returned to Narrabeen on a one-year deal.
Coach Des Hasler could also welcome Tigers forward Josh Aliaoi in the coming weeks, with the Samoan international agitating for a release from his current deal at Concord to the join the Sea Eagles.
Originally published as De Belin trial to shape Dragons' season