The St George Illawarra Dragons maintain their desire is to re-sign Matt Dufty until the end of 2021, even though the fullback is unlikely to retain his No. 1 jersey in 2019.
Dufty has drawn attention from a number of clubs after the Dragons brought in Corey Norman over the summer, opening up a move to fullback for Gareth Widdop.
Eight times Super League Champions Leeds Rhinos were showing good interest in the 23-year-old, while his name has also been linked to the position at North Queensland vacated by Ben Barba.
However, the Dragons have made clear the club’s desire to keep Dufty in the Red V long-term.
The retirement of Jason Nightingale and departure of Nene McDonald opens up two wing positions to be filled, for which Dufty will face competition from Zac Lomax, Jonas Pearson, Mikaele Ravalawa, Jason Saab and Lachlan Maranta.
Lomax, who also grew up playing fullback, weighed in on the positional complications facing Dufty and the Dragons.
“Duff is looking fit at the moment, he’s put on a bit of size, he’s very fast, and he has a lot of skill, a good passing game and [he’s a] confident fella,” he told Christian Nicolussi of The Sydney Morning Herald.
“He won’t be taking a backward step, and I’m confident wherever he’s asked to play he’ll put in a good performance.
“Fullback would be my favourite position. But as a young bloke you have to understand the demands of NRL and coming into the game, and the toll it can take on your body and mentally.”
St George Illawarra will have until Saturday 16th March to decide on their best line-up, when they take on the North Queensland Cowboys at 1300MILES Stadium.