Aitken: Merrin a ‘perfect fit’ for de Belin
TRENT Merrin could be the perfect fit for St George Illawarra if Jack de Belin is unable to play this NRL season, according to Dragons centre Euan Aitken.
The de Belin issue will reach a key point next week when the NSW State of Origin lock's challenge of his NRL-imposed no-fault ban is due back in the Federal Court.
The 28-year-old's absence at the Dragons has been compounded with fellow middle player Korbin Sims now out for up to eight weeks with a broken arm.
It's understood the Dragons will wait until de Belin's Federal Court case is decided before a possible request to the NRL for a salary cap exemption and search for a replacement for him.
Former NSW forward Merrin has been heavily linked with a return to the Dragons in recent days, after reluctantly leaving the NRL for a four-year deal with Leeds in the English Super League last off-season.
"It would be good to see him back, he's a quality player," said Aitken, who played alongside Merrin in 2015.
"In terms of filling the spot he could definitely do that. I'm only speaking on behalf of myself but I like Mez and I think he would be a good acquisition for the club.
"It seems he could be a perfect fit at the moment, depending on what happens with Jack."
The Dragons insisted earlier this week they had made no contact with Merrin, who is currently back in the country on compassionate leave.
But after missing out on Sam Kasiano amid confusion over their ability to sign a replacement player and the terms around it, Merrin could be a logical target.
He played 132 games for the Dragons between 2009 and 2015, rising from a rookie to an Origin and international star while winning a premiership along the way.
While the Dragons have re-found form with back-to-back wins,both Sims and de Belin were desperately missed in the opening two rounds when Sims was also absent through suspension.
"Jack is an irreplaceable player, he brings a lot to the team," Aitken said. "He is team-first. He does a lot of things that go unnoticed and is just a massive part of our team.
"But in terms of Mez, he's a great bloke and trains hard. He's all about his footy, he's from the South Coast so it does seem like a good fit."