By Nathan Beuman
St George Illawarra Dragons lock Jack de Belin confides there is an air of confidence heading into the fixture against the Newcastle Knights at Hunter Stadium, Newcastle On Saturday.
The Dragons enter the fixture on the back of two consecutive victories but will face a Knights outfit boasting top spot on the table at present who have yet to be defeated.
The Cootamundra Bulldogs junior admits that despite copping criticism for the lack of size in the past, the Dragons forward pack made a strong statement in the 12-4 win over the Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles last round.
In a match that would ordinarily mean a lot to both sides, de Belin said that the added incentive of playing for the Alex McKinnon Cup means a lot to both himself, and the rest of his teammates.
“Alex is one of my really good mates, and I know a lot of the boys at the club have had a lot to do with Alex as well,” said de Belin.
“Both Newcastle and the Dragons have a strong association with Macca, so it will mean a lot to play for his Cup.
“The Knights have a really strong forward back.
“We are going to have to bring our A game, and our forward pack is going to have to lift another gear from the weekend.
“We didn’t start the season as we would have liked, but I feel the last two round we have definitely come on stronger.
“Our confidence is sky high at the moment. We are ready for the weekend.
“The forward pack copped a lot of criticism at the start of the year, even in years gone by… but I definitely feel like we went out there and made a little bit of a statement on the weekend.
“I felt like I had a really good pre-season, and trialled pretty well, even though I missed a couple, but going into the season, I felt really fit and strong.
“I feel like I am starting to play some good footy and definitely starting to show my potential.”