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De Belin makes surprise switch in international allegiances for Pacific Championships

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5th October, 2023
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Former NSW forward Jack de Belin will make his international debut this month with Papua New Guinea after electing to make himself available for the country where his grandmother was born.

The 32-year-old St George Illawarra veteran will run out for new coach Justin Holbrook when the Kumuls line up against the Cook Islands on October 15 and Fiji a fortnight later in Port Moresby.

Souths winger Alex Johnston and Melbourne centre Justin Olam are also representing PNG.

De Belin was coached by Holbrook when the former Titans mentor was the helm of the Dragons’ under-20 squad more than a decade ago.

His grandmother was born in PNG when her parents were serving as missionaries. He had considered taking up an offer to play for the Kumuls in the 2013 World Cup but had pursued his goal of playing for Australia.

Jack De Belin

Jack de Belin (Photo by Ashley Feder/Getty Images)

He appeared to close the door on ever running out for the Kumuls last year when he admitted he would feel like a fraud playing for the nation.

“I have never been there or had any connection to the culture or the people,” de Belin told AAP last June. “My nan was born there. She’s not actually Papua New Guinean though, with her heritage … I’ve got no PNG blood.


“That’s why I feel like a bit of a fraud in a sense. I would love to help out and what not, but I just don’t feel like it would be right.

“I’d be taking away a spot from someone who is actually from PNG and deserves it.”

De Belin played three Origins for NSW in 2018 before spending more than two years out of the game while he was stood down during his sexual assault trial, which was dropped after two hung juries.

Dragons teammate Dan Russell, Titans forward Jacob Alick and Cowboys duo Zac Laybutt and Robert Derby were also named in Holbrook’s squad.

Veteran former Canterbury forward Rhyse Martin, who now plays for Leeds, will captain the team.

PNG squad


Alex Johnston (South Sydney Rabbitohs)
Benji Kot (PNG Hunters)
Dan Russell (St George Illawarra Dragons)
Edwin Ipape (Leigh Leopards)
Epel Kapinias (PNG Hunters)
Jack de Belin (St George Illawarra Dragons)
Jacob Alick (Gold Coast Titans)
Judah Rimbu (PNG Hunters)
Junior Rop (PNG Hunters)
Justin Olam (Melbourne Storm)
Kyle Laybutt (Townsville Blackhawks)
Lachlan Lam (Leigh Leopards)
Liam Horne (Castleford Tigers)
Nene Macdonald (Leeds Rhinos)
Nixon Putt (Castleford Tigers)
Rhyse Martin (Leeds Rhinos)
Robert Derby (North Queensland Cowboys)
Rodrick Tai (PNG Hunters)
Valentine Richard (Central Qld Capras)
Wellington Albert (London Broncos)
Zac Laybutt (North Queensland Cowboys)

with AAP