TOWNSVILLE, AUSTRALIA - JULY 21: Matthew Dufty of the Dragons runs the ball during the round 19 NRL match between the North Queensland Cowboys and the St George Illawarra Dragons at 1300SMILES Stadium on July 21, 2018 in Townsville, Australia. (Photo by Ian Hitchcock/Getty Images)

Senior St George Illawarra duo Matt Dufty and Corey Norman will be playing for their futures at Kogarah this season as the Dragons continue their cut-throat approach to off-contract stars.

According to The Daily TelegraphDragons management and coach Anthony Griffin have told the pair they will need to be at their best on a consistent basis this season if they remain keen on staying in the Red V after 2021.

Both Dufty and Norman remain unsigned past this season and failed to find consistency in 2020, with Griffin’s arrival at the Dragons already sending a strong warning to the squad that no player’s position is guaranteed.

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The Saints have already lost skipper Cameron McInnes to the Sharks since Griffin’s arrival, with the star hooker becoming frustrated with the lack of contract negotiations and opting to head to the Shire from 2022.

WOLLONGONG, AUSTRALIA – JUNE 28: Cameron McInnes of the Dragons looks on during the round 15 NRL match between the St George Illawarra Dragons and the North Queensland Cowboys at WIN Stadium on June 28, 2019 in Wollongong, Australia. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

Dufty has also made his frustrations with the club public, telling the Sydney Morning Herald earlier this year that he has fielded interest from rival clubs after little contact from the Dragons.

“I haven’t heard anything from the club – it’s a bit disappointing they haven’t talked to me yet,” Dufty said.

“I’ve given a lot to the Dragons since I was about 14, I’d just like to think they want me. That’s all I want to feel. Money’s not an issue, it’s just the fact [I want] a bit of respect, that’s all.

“There has been [interest elsewhere], but I won’t say who at the moment. It is still early days. That makes you feel good [there’s interest],” he said.

“Obviously I’d like to stay in the ‘Gong’. There was a stage there last year where I could have gone, and I had permission to go. Huddersfield was probably the main [option], but I wanted to stay in the NRL.”

The 25-year-old will be feeling the pressure to retain his place in the No.1 jumper at the Saints, with the club announcing last week young gun Cody Ramsey signed a new deal until the end of the 2024 season.

Dufty remains one of the only prominent fullbacks in the competition off-contract this year and could be lured away from Kogarah if a rival suitor begins their chase for an experienced playmaker.

Norman is set to miss the Dragons’ Round 1 clash against the Sharks following a breach notice from the NRL following a street brawl in Sydney last month.

The veteran five-eighth will likely walk back into Griffin’s side the following week but will be under immense pressure to hold his spot when playing for his future.

1 COMMENT

  1. Seriously without Dufty last year the Dragons would have only scored half their points. 100% he needs to lift his defence efforts and completions. He would kill it in England. Dufty could be coached to play five eight as well and a smart coach might just see that and pinch yet another local junior. Norman and half a dozen others could go now ahead of Dufty.

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