NEWCASTLE, AUSTRALIA - APRIL 07: Jack Bird of the Broncos in action during the round five NRL match between the Newcastle Knights and the Brisbane Broncos at McDonald Jones Stadium on April 7, 2018 in Newcastle, Australia. (Photo by Ashley Feder/Getty Images)

The No.13 jumper at Kogarah Park will be disputed once again in 2021, with the Dragon’s star lock Jack de Belin set to miss at least the opening few rounds of the season due to his ongoing sexual assault case.

While the club and newly-appointed coach Anthony Griffin have thrown their support behind de Belin, they will need to finalise their starting side this off-season with the 29-year-old off the teamsheet for the third straight season.

Former Dragons coach Paul McGregor was experimental in finding a replacement for de Belin, who’s last game was against the Rabbitohs in a 2018 preliminary final.

McGregor ran Blake Lawrie, Tyson Frizell, James Graham, Jackson Ford and Cameron McInnes through the No.13 jumper with little success.

McInnes lined up at lock on eight occasions last year, but with Ben Hunt tipped to run in the halves, McInnes could be set to take on his more comfortable role at hooker.

The fresh face of Jack Bird could just be the answer to Griffin’s begging question, with the former Bronco showcasing his flexibility at Red Hill as a centre, halfback and fullback.

According to¬†The Daily Telegraph, many believe Bird would fit into the lock role with some ease and with an uninterrupted pre-season, could be the catalyst in the Red V’s 2021 campaign.

de Belin’s retrial is set for April 12 and will remain on the NRL’s no-fault stand down policy until the case is resolved.