Sam Kasiano is firming as the likely replacement for Jack de Belin should St George Illawarra gain a salary cap exemption for the Blues lock.
The NRL on Thursday stood down de Belin, who became the first player to face that action under changes to the game’s disciplinary policy regarding players charged with serious crimes. De Belin has pleaded not guilty to a charge of aggravated sexual assault and will mount a legal challenge against the game’s new hardline stance.
If unsuccessful, the Dragons have the option of applying for salary cap dispensation while de Belin’s case remains before the courts. They currently only have $100,000 remaining in their salary cap for 2019 and there are few viable forward replacements for de Belin.
The Herald can reveal Kasiano is currently at the top of their list of contingency plans. The Melbourne forward is contracted for this year and next but the Storm are desperate to squeeze him out to ease salary cap pressures. The New Zealand and Samoan international is on a deal worth $600,000 a year but such is Melbourne’s need to get him off the books that they would consider subsidising him to the tune of almost $500,000 for this year if another club made up the difference.