ST GEORGE Illawarra have locked down one of the key cogs in their forwards arsenal, confirming that ironman Jack de Belin will remain with the club for a further three seasons on Tuesday.
The deal, that will keep the 26-year-old at the club until the end of 2020, is one less headache for club recruitment chief Ian Millward, with off-contract stars Gareth Widdop and Johs Dugan still un-signed beyond this season.
Having debuted for the club as a teenager in 2011, de Belin said he never seriously entertained offers from rival clubs with remaining a one-club man his top priority.
“It feels great, it was a pretty easy decision for me,” de Belin said.
“I’ve been here that long now, it’s going on 10 years pretty soon, so I obviously wanted to stay. At the same time you want to test your value but I didn’t even bother to do that.
“I just wanted to get the contract here out of the way so I can focus on playing some good footy and have a good year for the Dragons.
I love the club, I love living in Wollongong and it’s a great honour to be able to sign for three more years.”
The NSW Origin hopeful debuted under mastercoach Wayne Bennett in what was a golden era for a club that has endured more lows than highs in recent seasons.
Having come out the other side, de Belin is confident the club is well on the upward trajectory.
“Definitely with some of the players we’ve got, I think we’ve got some good days ahead and that obviously made my decision a lot easier,” he said.
“I was here in the golden days I guess you could say and I did debut under Wayne Bennett so I’ve been through a few different sides now.
“A lot of players have come and gone and there’s a really good culture and it’s a great place to be around at the moment.
“Last year wasn’t the best of years and there was a big review and a lot of things were put in place to change that and all the boys have bought in well.
“The culture we’ve got now is unbelievable and I can say the boys are tighter than ever.”
With his future sorted de Belin will turn his attention to Sunday’s clash with Cronulla at Southern Cross Group Stadium with both sides having plenty to prove in the local derby.
The Sharks have been widely tipped to miss the eight, despite being defending premiers, while most have penciled the Dragons into the bottom four.
The Sharks signaled their intentions with a 42-16 hammering of Canberra on the road and de Belin said the Dragons will need to lift considerably on their limp 34-16 defeat at the hands of Parramatta.
“It was pretty disappointing [against Parramatta], I don’t think anyone expected that kind of performance to be tossed up,” de Belin said.
“Cronulla are coming off the victory they had and were pretty good on the weekend and we were petty much the opposite.
“We’ve got to come out with a better mindset and attitude than we did on the weekend and hopefully the rest will take care of itself.
“We’re kind of at different ends of the spectrum but we’ve both got a point to prove.
“They’re the reigning premiers so they’ve got to back it up while we’ve been touted to be cellar-dwellers so we’ve got to prove a few people wrong as well.”