The Dragons have vowed to leave the Jack de Belin drama in the pre-season as they prepare to open their NRL campaign in Townsville on Saturday night.
The clash with the Cowboys will mark the end of a tumultuous off-season for the club, with questions surrounding de Belin's availability swirling since he was charged with aggravated sexual assault in December.
The Australian Rugby League Commission officially implemented the new no-fault stand down policy on Monday night after de Belin challenged the validity of his ban in court last week.
The confirmation of the policy means de Belin will be sidelined until court proceedings have played out.
Strike forward Tariq Sims conceded the uncertainty has acted as a distraction throughout the pre-season, however he's confident the team will be able to put the saga behind them once the season begins.
"I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t disrupting the camp," Sims said. "But we've got multiple players that have been training in his position throughout the year.
"Whether we keep Friz [Tyson Frizell] there, or we've got young Lachlan Timm, Josh Kerr, my brother Korbin coming after two weeks, Blake Lawrie. We've got a lot of options, we just need to make sure if we're called upon, we do our best job.
"At the moment, Jack's welfare is our main priority. There's obviously going to be a lot of back and forth with him in the court systems. With everything that's going on in the papers, I think it's a bit out of line, I think it needs to go before the courts before we throw our opinions around."
The off-season has been a busy one for St George Illawarra, with captain Gareth Widdop announcing 2019 will be his last year at the club and Eels half Corey Norman arriving in December.
Desperate to add to the premiership he won with the Storm in 2012, Widdop is confident the drama won't detract from the Dragons title chances.
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"Obviously it's been in the paper every single day for the last couple of weeks," Widdop said. "You can't hide from it. But I keep saying it all the time, we turn up to training with a job individually and as a team to do. The coach has given us a role to play and that's all we can worry about.
"We can make sure we're there for Jack, obviously his welfare is the most important thing, make sure he's alright, but he seems to be okay. It's there, but it's not going to be a distraction, we can't let it be. We've got a job to do, to go out and play football."
With de Belin's ban likely to last many months, Sims recognises the remainder of the forward pack must step up to fill the void left by the absence of a representative forward.
It's a challenge, Sims believes, the pack is up for.
"Jack brings experience, but also passion and pride," Sims said. "We've got myself, Paul Vaughan, James Graham, Jeremy Lattimore, Tyson Frizell, they're some pretty handy players that do bring a lot of spirit and pride and passion in their game.
"If that means we all have to lift an extra 5 per cent, then so be it.
"After a couple of weeks we get Korbin back [from suspension], he's just as big and just as ugly as Jack. He plays the same style of game, he hits through the middle, he ball-plays really well, he makes some smart options defensive-wise and he'll be a really great player for us."