Jack De Belin named Dragons captain against Dolphins
Jack de Belin will assume the role of St George Illawarra captain for the first time when they face the Dolphins without regular skipper Ben Hunt.
With Hunt in Queensland's State of Origin camp, Dragons interim coach Ryan Carr handed de Belin the captaincy for Thursday's game at Redcliffe.
In the first Origin-affected round of 2023, there have been significant changes across the board.
Kalyn Ponga, who was dropped by the Maroons, has shifted to fullback for Newcastle's game against a Manly side without Tom Trbojevic and Daly Cherry-Evans.
Despite being ruled out of NSW camp with a sternum injury, South Sydney's Campbell Graham is included to face Canberra on Saturday with Blake Taaffe filling in for Latrell Mitchell at fullback.
Canberra have shifted Corey Horsburgh to a backrow role and recalled Corey Harawira-Naera with Hudson Young (Origin) and Elliot Whitehead (suspension) unavailable.
But the biggest talking point will be Carr's decision to deploy De Belin as skipper.
De Belin was considered a captaincy candidate by recently sacked coach Anthony Griffin in 2021, but the club backtracked on that move which came soon after the forward had returned to the game following allegations of sexual assault.
The 32-year-old was later cleared of one charge, with the jury unable to reach a verdict on a further five counts.
The Dragons are without Blake Lawrie and Jaydn Su'A against the Dolphins and have put Jayden Sullivan in Hunt's No. 7 jersey.
Kodi Nikorima plays fullback for the Dolphins in the absence of Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow, while eye-catching centre Valynce Te Whare is named to come off the bench.
Their cross-town rivals Brisbane travel to Napier to take on the Warriors on Saturday with Adam Reynolds back in the halves but deploying heavily-changed pack due to Origin absences.
Tristan Sailor, the son of Wendell, will make his Broncos debut at fullback with Reece Walsh in Maroons camp.
Manly have been forced into a similar change with Keao Weekes filling in for Tom Trbojevic against Newcastle.
The Knights have demoted Lachlan Miller to the bench clearing Ponga's return to fullback.
Parramatta, meanwhile, have named Joe Ofahengaue for Friday's game against the North Queensland Cowboys after he completed a switch from the Wests Tigers on Tuesday.
Jason Taumalolo is among the Cowboys' extended bench.