DRAGONS lock Jack de Belin won't play in his side's trial match against Newcastle on Saturday, with the club saying his omission is the result of a virus.
A squad announcement released on Tuesday said de Belin was sent home from training on Monday with an "upper respiratory tract infection" and will not be part of a 28-man line-up for the club's first hit-out.
The explanation drew scorn in some quarters amid heavy criticism of both the club and the NRL for the decision not to stand down the NSW Origin star after he was charged with aggravated sexual assault in Wollongong Court last week.
He entered a plea of not guilty and had his bail conditions adjusted to allow him to fulfill his NRL commitments ahead of his next court appearance on April 17.
The club has stood firmly behind the 27-year-old, saying it will not stand him down prior to his next court date - a stance would see him play at least the opening five games of the NRL season, injury-permitting.
It's a decision that has split the game, with Melbourne boss Bart Campbell claiming the game appeared "morally tone deaf" in a memo to his fellow club CEO's in the wake of the charges.
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The club will play it's second preseason trial - the annual Charity Shield fixture against Souths - in Mudgee on Saturday week, though de Belin's immediate future appears to hang on the outcome of next Thursday's ARLC meeting.
Commission chairman Peter Beattie said the ARLC's policy on player behaviour will be reviewed at that meeting, with a decision on de Belin - if any - to follow.
Fellow rep stars James Graham and Tyson Frizell were the other notable omissions from the 28-man squad, with young recruit Jonus Pearson also rested.
"The only players not playing are James, Tyson, Jonus who has been given time away from training, and Jack who is unlikely to train to much this week after being sent home from training by the medical staff on Monday with an upper respiratory tract infection," McGregor said.
"It has been a productive 14-week pre-season and the players and coaching staff are really excited that the season is finally before us," McGregor said.
"2019 is the beginning of something better for the Dragons, and we are approaching the coming season in good shape. We have a squad of 28 for Saturday, all of whom will get an opportunity to play.
"This weekend will be a good opportunity to build towards round one as we take a look at our technical and tactical tweaks, the development of our younger players and recruits and how the team plays under fatigue and pressure."