Paul McGregor to pick Jack de Belin against Manly if St George Illawarra forward wins court battle

Running riot: The Dragons thrashed Canterbury at Kogarah on Sunday and will hope for a similar result against Manly on Saturday night. Picture: AAP Image
Running riot: The Dragons thrashed Canterbury at Kogarah on Sunday and will hope for a similar result against Manly on Saturday night. Picture: AAP Image

Paul McGregor says he would have no hesitation of throwing Jack de Belin straight into action against Manly on Saturday night -  if de Belin successfully challenges the NRL's no-fault stand-down policy in the Federal Court.

A three-day hearing to decide De Belin's immediate playing future was to start on Monday, with the Dragons forward's legal team to challenge the NRL's validity of standing down players on serious criminal charges. 

The 28-year-old has continued to train with the team since the start of the season despite missing the first five rounds.

If he becomes eligible to play, McGregor said he would not hesitate to play de Belin against the in-form Sea Eagles, as both St George Illawarra and Manly chase a fourth straight victory.

"What I hope happens is yeah, he does win," McGregor said after St George Illawarra's 40-4 thrashing of Canterbury at Kogarah on Sunday.

"I don't know too much other than you guys. Will I pick Jack? If he's mentally and physically right, absolutely.

"If we play possibles and probables at training when first plays reserve grade, yeah he's ready [to return on that evidence]."

De Belin is accused of raping a woman inside a Wollongong apartment in the early hours of December 9 last year while his friend and co-accused, Callan Sinclair, 21, watched on.

De Belin and Sinclair have pleaded not guilty to charges of aggravated sexual assault in company.

If de Belin were allowed to return to the field against the Sea Eagles it would be a huge boost to the Dragons, with the NSW State of Origin representative regarded as one of the most damaging back-rowers in the game.

St George Illawarra have an impressive recent record against Manly. The Dragons have won four of their last five clashes with the Sea Eagles, with the last three victories in a row all ending in heavy defeats for Manly.

The Sea Eagles have shipped 119 points in their last three games against the Dragons, with an aggregate result of 119-40 at an average of almost 40 to 13.

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