De Belin unwilling to waste away
Jack de Belin made it his mission during the pre-season to start 2015 with a bang, and while his Dragons team whimpered their way through Round 1, the forward utility finished the game in positive standing.
Starting off the bench, de Belin played 46 minutes where he produced 109 metres and 36 tackles for the lone miss in one of not many highlights for St George Illawarra.
While he remains happy with his current place in the team, de Belin also doesn't want to get to the point where he is underutilised by coach Paul McGregor considering how good he is feeling within himself currently.
"I was pretty happy with how I went considering I only had that one trial in Warrington. Luckily I didn't fall too far behind the eight ball but I'm happy enough with the start and I'm expecting bigger and better things from myself," de Belin told NRL.com.
"I want to be putting my best foot forward for the team. I'm happy to play wherever Mary needs me. But I'm feeling fit and reckon I can pull big minutes now so I don't want to be sitting on the bench and wasting away when I can be contributing and putting in the hard yards."
As those in attendance at Jubilee Oval witnessed, de Belin’s true passion appeared to come to the fore in last Monday night's loss to Melbourne.
After teammate Benji Marshall was taken out by Storm rookie Felise Kaufusi, de Belin has no qualms over racing in to defend his halfback in an act of faith that is sure to put him in the good books of Red V supporters everywhere.
"If you see your halfback or any teammate get hit you definitely want to get in there and back them. You don't need to go in throwing punches," de Belin said.
"It's just a matter of letting your teammates know you have their back and aren't going to let the other team stand over them. I wouldn't say I'm a hit man or anything but I'm just looking out for my teammates."
The next test for de Belin and his fellow Dragons forwards sees them come face-to-face with the might of the Wests Tigers pack.
Headlined by Aaron Woods, Keith Galloway and Martin Taupau, de Belin believes the Dragons should be confident in knowing they beat them the last time they played, a 28-12 Gareth Widdop-inspired win back in Round 20, 2014.
"They have a very big and explosive forward pack but I know the last time we played them we matched them and put one over them," de Belin said.
"We should be all feeling positive leading into Round 2 and hopefully we can come away with the win."
First priority for the Dragons though lies in eliminating their constant lateral play which derailed their efforts against Melbourne.
With the Dragons dominating possession against a willing Storm defensive line, they managed to score only once in what de Belin said was a matter of "trying to get around them rather than through them".
"We just didn't test them out. We were always playing out the back when we should have been ploughing through them," de Belin said.
"The effort was there but we were way too flat, our execution was off and we didn't know our roles to the point where they should've been known. It was good to get the rust out but otherwise it was truly disappointing."