Boom young forward Jack de Belin wants to one day lead the Dragons after agreeing to a three-year contract extension with the club.
The deal, announced yesterday, will keep de Belin in the red V until the end of the 2017 season.
The 22-year-old was one of the club’s most consistent forwards in 20 appearances last season and while his late-season form could have commanded interest on the open market he never seriously considered leaving the club he joined as a teenager.
‘‘I could have tested myself on the market but I’m happy with the decision I’ve made,’’ de Belin said.
‘‘I’ve been established down here in the Illawarra for five years now and I love it down here.
‘‘The past couple of years they’ve [Dragons] been good to me and I’d like to think I’ve been good to them.
‘‘It means that the club has a lot of faith in me and sees me in their future plans which is good.
‘‘We got the deal done pretty quickly before the season so now I can stop worrying about my future and just focus on my footy.’’
With his future now secure de Belin has turned his attention to leading a young Dragons side into a new era with ambitions of one day captaining the club.
‘‘I can most definitely see myself as a leader of the club especially now that a lot of old heads have gone,’’ he said.
‘‘As sad as it is it’s good that it paves the way for the young fellas like myself, the Trent Merrins and the Jack Stockwells to be the new leaders of the club and I definitely see myself being able to fill those shoes.
‘‘I’ve seen a few faces come and go and I believe that the culture Pricey and the boys are building at the moment is unreal.
‘‘Hopefully we can show that out on the footy field.’’
The long-term deal completes a dramatic turnaround for the 22-year-old who began last season with the Illawarra Cutters.
‘‘I was disappointed not to get picked in round one [last year] but that’s part of life you don’t always get what you want,’’ he said.
‘‘I was always confident in my ability and I knew it was only a matter of time before Pricey picked me again which he did.
‘‘I think last year I found out what you need to do to become a consistent first-grade player and I think I was one of the more consistent players in a pretty up and down season. I think every year I can build on that and I’m definitely looking for a big year.’’