Jack de Belin will become just the sixth player in St George Illawarra history to appear in 200 NRL games when he takes the field on Friday night against the Warriors at WIN Stadium.
He joins club legends Ben Hornby, Ben Creagh, Jason Nightingale, Matt Cooper and Dean Young to reach the milestone.
Hailing from Cootamundra in the South West Slopes region of NSW, de Belin linked up with the Dragons as a teenager and spent two seasons playing for the club’s NYC team where he was named the competition's Player of the Year in 2011.
In Round 16, 2011, a 20-year-old de Belin debuted at a packed WIN Stadium alongside the likes of Creagh, Nightingale, and Young in a winning effort against the Sea Eagles.
Almost 12 years on from that Monday night in Wollongong, de Belin says he is excited to be running out onto WIN Stadium now with a double century of games under his belt.
“It’s been a long time coming,” de Belin said.
“I’m pretty proud. It’s been a lot of hard work and dedication that has gone into it. It’s something that just hasn’t magically happened. A lot of hard years of work have been put into this.”
Through the long journey, de Belin has remained confident that the 200-game milestone would eventually come.
“I’ve always been optimistic. I always knew I was going to crack it. It was just a matter of time, I suppose,” he said.
“I probably didn’t hit it as quick as I would’ve liked but not for one second did I ever doubt or think I wouldn’t make it.”
Having earned Junior Kangaroo, Country Origin, and State of Origin honours, de Belin has enjoyed a number of key moments throughout his career.
“Obviously, playing Origin and winning a series there was definitely a highlight,” he said.
“My debut was a massive highlight. When we had that finals run in 2018, that was pretty cool as well. I’ve had plenty of good memories. Even just playing school footy and playing back at the Cootamundra Bulldogs; it’s all been awesome.”
Now a 32-year-old veteran, de Belin maintains that more milestones are in his sight.
“Four hundred [games] is definitely wishful thinking,” he laughed.
“Three hundred’s in the realm of possibility but you never know. I’ve still got a good couple of years, at least, in me, so 250 is definitely the next tick after this one and then push for 300.”
Blake Lawrie, who made his NRL debut alongside de Belin back in 2017, is hopeful that the side can come away with a win come Friday night to celebrate the milestone.
“Hopefully, we go out there as a club and get the job done for him and make it a special one,” Lawrie said.
“He brings that just tough grit and never-say-die attitude. Bomber’s been outstanding for us for a number of years now and, obviously, he’s been a huge, influential part of our team and it’s really exciting for him to get a 200th here at home.”