De Belin: I really want to bend some bodies
Jack de Belin has put the strong early season form that has him mentioned in NSW Blues contention down to the rediscovery of his defensive "whack" after making a critical appraisal of his own game.
De Belin was one of St George Illawarra's best in the 54- 8 thrashing of the Gold Coast Titans on the back of two strong displays against the Brisbane Broncos and Cronulla Sharks where he made his presence felt with the physicality of his attack and defence.
The 27-year-old lock told NRL.com he had always been regarded as a strong defender but "over the years, I felt as though I’d gone away from that and was just happy to make my tackles and be done with it".
"Ever since I came into first grade, I've always worked on my attack and getting my hands on the ball because my defence always came naturally to me," he said.
"Now that I have got my attack in order, I've gone back to trying to bring more whack to my defence.
"When I was younger, I used to do it all the time but went away from it a bit, but now I am not satisfied just making tackles. I really want to rip and tear and bend some bodies."
De Belin is relishing being a key cog in a pack that boasts James Graham, Paul Vaughan, Tyson Frizell, Tariq Sims and Leeson Ah Mau, all of whom have played a significant role in lifting the Dragons to the top of the Telstra Premiership ladder.
"I have played in some pretty good forward packs over the years and played in some that were heavily criticised for not being big enough and physical enough," he said.
"Right now, I think we've got the perfect combination of toughness, skill, speed and power.
"You rattle off the names and you look at the forward pack and it is pretty stacked and a representative pack itself. It is all about bringing that energy and effort to each game with everyone having the right attitude at the moment."
Vaughan and Graham are two of the form props in the NRL and de Belin has relished playing off the back of their impact.
"I've got it pretty good there. They lead from the front and are inspirational with what they do," he said.
"They both bring a unique set of skills to the table. Paul is a great carrier of the ball and has worked hard on his defence and it is top notch.
"James Graham is unreal with regards to the one-percenters and he has brought that culture with him to training, and it has rubbed off on all the boys and everyone else is ripping in and trying to do those one-percenters."
De Belin is craving a start in Brad Fittler-coached NSW side and can't be accused of not putting his hand up to get a debut Origin crack.
"I feel like my game is made for Origin," he said.
"I've always wanted to play Origin and I feel like the time is now."