St George Illawarra expected to leave Jack de Belin out of Dragons team to face Cowboys in round one

Out: Dragons forward Jack de Belin. Picture: Brendan Esposito
Out: Dragons forward Jack de Belin. Picture: Brendan Esposito

Jack de Belin is expected to be left out of St George Illawarra's team for round one against North Queensland as he continues his legal bid to return to the field.

The Dragons are unlikely to name de Belin for their trip to Townsville to face the Cowboys on Saturday night, with de Belin to return to the Federal Court on Thursday.

The 28-year-old is testing the legality of the NRL's rule used to stand him down.

De Belin is not currently banned after Justice Rares said the rule does not yet exist at a hearing last week.

The NRL is expected to officially implement the rule - dictating any player charged with an offence that carries a maximum prison term of 11 years or more will be automatically stood down - before Thursday's interlocutory hearing.

De Belin and 21-year-old Callan Sinclair have pleaded not guilty to the aggravated sexual assault of a 19-year-old woman in Wollongong on December 9.

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