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De Belin to stand trial in November

St George Illawarra forward Jack de Belin will stand trial in November after a judge on Friday ruled against his legal team's pre-trial argument.

Judge Andrew Haesler in the NSW District Court has ruled de Belin and co-accused Callan Sinclair will stand trial from November 2.

De Belin is off contract at the end of the season and has not played in the NRL since he was first charged in December 2018.

The Dragons are in the process of assembling their roster for 2021 and the outcome of de Belin's case has significant influence over the make-up of their squad as the club looks to appoint Paul McGregor's long-term successor in the next month.

St George Illawarra face competition from the Warriors for his services should he be able to play in 2021.

Dragons winger Jason Saab.
Dragons winger Jason Saab. ©Grant Trouville/NRL Photos

Meanwhile, winger Jason Saab's early exit from the last two years of his Dragons deal is contingent on the club not being left empty-handed by his departure.

Saab has been pushing for a release on compassionate grounds for much of 2020.

The 19-year-old has struggled with a three-hour daily commute to Wollongong for training and family circumstances that prevent him moving closer to the club's headquarters.

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Dragons officials have met with Saab's management multiple times throughout the year but have been unable to resolve the impasse.

Saab has fielded interest from several Sydney rivals including Wests Tigers and Manly over the course of 2020, but the Dragons preference is for a player swap to hasten his release.

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"It's worth noting that contrary to media reports Jason Saab has not been granted a release at the end of the season," CEO Ryan Webb wrote in an update to Dragons members on Thursday.

"Although we will consider allowing him to depart on compassionate grounds if we were to receive a commensurate compensation in the form of a player and/or cash consideration."

NRL.com understands that the Dragons are not necessarily chasing a like-for-like replacement for Saab, with reinforcements on the edges and in their middle forwards stocks also a roster priority.

Saab has stressed that welfare concerns are driving his push for a release despite struggling for game time, with the 199-centimetre winger behind Mikaele Ravalawa and Jordan Pereira in the club's pecking order.

Utility Tristan Sailor faces a similar predicament and has been unable to get a run under interim coach Dean Young after playing the final three games of McGregor's tenure.

The 22-year-old son of former dual-international Wendell Sailor is yet to begin contract talks with the Dragons and may well have to move on to see regular first grade at the end of 2020.

Dragons utility player Tristan Sailor.
Dragons utility player Tristan Sailor. ©Robb Cox/NRL Photos

Queensland Origin prop Christian Welch remains a front-row target with a three-year deal reportedly tabled, while Melbourne are also bidding to hang onto him with a two or three-year contract of their own.

Webb's message to members confirmed the key elements underpinning the Dragons coaching recruitment process, with an emphasis on "strong discipline", the "ability to develop young players", being "defensively minded" and coming "from a culture of success".

In the same memo, Webb referenced the imminent re-signing of "our brightest young talent in the coming weeks."

NRL.com understands the Dragons are poised to lock in several up and coming SG Ball players, having earlier this week elevated twins Max and Matt Feagai to next year's top 30 squad and re-signed the pair until the end of 2022.

 

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