The St George Illawarra Dragons are facing a leadership vacuum, leading them to appoint their third captain for the year. Blake Lawrie will take over the responsibilities from Jack De Belin as the team tries to find stability. De Belin had previously stepped in as captain in the absence of Ben Hunt during the State of Origin series. However, Lawrie is considered a senior figure within the playing group and would have been a contender for captaincy earlier if not for a broken hand.
This Friday night’s match against the Raiders will mark Lawrie’s first time as captain for the Dragons. The club had been impressed with de Belin’s performance as captain earlier in the year, but they believe Lawrie would have been the perfect fit for the role if he hadn’t been sidelined with injury. Lawrie recently signed a three-year contract extension, demonstrating his importance to incoming coach Shane Flanagan‘s plans for rejuvenating the club.
In May, de Belin expressed his gratitude and satisfaction at being given the opportunity to captain the Dragons. He stated, “This means the world to me, and to be able to lead this proud club after everything I’ve been through, it’s super satisfying and a good reward.” De Belin had been sidelined for over two years due to the NRL‘s no-fault stand-down policy while he battled sexual assault charges. The charges stemmed from an incident in Wollongong in 2018, and while the first trial ended without a verdict, de Belin was found not guilty of one charge in the second trial.
The Dragons are currently facing a challenging period, experiencing heavy losses in their past two games against the Warriors and Sharks. They have conceded a total of 100 points in those matches. The loss to the Warriors marked de Belin’s 200th NRL match, making him only the sixth player in St George Illawarra history to achieve this milestone. The team is now focused on turning their form around as they approach their remaining eight matches against the Eels, Rabbitohs, Storm, and Warriors.
There has also been speculation surrounding Ben Hunt‘s future at the Dragons. Hunt has requested to be released from his contract, leading to uncertainty about whether he will remain at the club beyond this year. Despite the challenges, the Dragons are determined to avoid their first wooden spoon in the history of the joint venture. However, their upcoming matches against strong opponents will prove to be a tough test for the team.