AAP Rugby

Dragons finally eye clarity on de Belin

By AAP Newswire

St George Illawarra are looking forward to finally seeing clarity on the Jack de Belin case with his criminal trial expected to be complete by the start of the 2020 NRL season.

It was confirmed this week that de Belin would face court on sexual assault charges on March 2 next year, with his trial expected to run for two weeks.

The NRL season is expected to begin on March 12, meaning de Belin's case will likely be resolved on or before the Dragons' first game.

The matter has hung over the struggling Dragons' head all year, with the former NSW State of Origin lock unable to play but still training with the team as he maintains his innocence.

"It's obviously a situation that has been one of many this year. It's only one part of it but every week we are talking about it (in the media)," said coach Paul McGregor.

"The beauty of what happened this week is obviously the timing of Jack's hearing for the criminal case which will be before the season starts.

"So it won't interfere and impact on 2020, because that should be finished a week into the competition.

"We will get the pre-season going next year and know with a week of the ball being picked whether he is available or not."

The Dragons' season has been their worst since 2013, and it won't get any easier this weekend with the Sydney Roosters at Kogarah.

The Saints haven't beaten the defending premiers outside of their Anzac Day fixture since the 2010 grand final.

Roosters coach Trent Robinson claimed on Friday his team was now playing better football than they did in last year's title run.

"I think we've improved on that," he said.

"The combinations have improved and the understanding has improved. But so has the game.

"We've got to keep moving to make sure we stay on top of the game. We're not quite there yet."

A win will go close to wrapping up second spot for the Roosters, meaning they won't have to leave the SCG during the finals series until the decider if they keep winning.

Meanwhile, Robinson hoped to welcome Boyd Cordner back from his calf injury for next Saturday's clash with Penrith after his recovery was slower than expected.

STATS THAT MATTER

* The Roosters have won the 20 minutes after halftime 90-18 in matches between the two teams since 2013.

* The Roosters score the most points per game (26.7), while the Dragons concede the second most (23).

* The Dragons receive the equal-least number of penalties per game (5.5).

Stats: Fox Sports