NRL 2020: Stat Attack, Round 19, Roosters vs Sharks, Shaun Johnson, Matt Dufty, Jarome Luai, Penrith Panthers, Melbourne Storm


The top eight is locked down for the next two weeks (in true 2020 fashion) but despite there being 16 games remaining in the regular season only three will involve the top eight sides facing each other.

Cronulla has the toughest run into the finals with games against the Roosters and Raiders and will be desperate for a win to show they will be more than cannon fodder heading into the very unfamiliar territory of “October Football” .

Kayo is your ticket to the 2020 NRL Telstra Premiership. Every game of every round Live & On-Demand with no-ad breaks during play. New to Kayo? Get your 14-day free trial & start streaming instantly >

Round 19

LATE MAIL: Manly star ‘confident in Turbo return; Broncos Gamble on unknown half



Source link

Matt Dufty credits teammate and ‘life coach’ Adam Clune with new outlook on league


A central character has been Dragons halfback Clune, who has been constantly driving and pushing Dufty since they were teammates in the club’s under-20 side. Dufty has appreciated every shove in the right direction.

“As a kid, I always overlooked it a bit – I just thought I’d go out and play some footy,” Dufty said. “Last year was a roller-coaster season for me. I probably wasn’t training as well as I could have and came into [this] pre-season with a real focus to try and be more professional.

Matt Dufty's increased attention to his match preparation and recovery has shown on the field.

Matt Dufty’s increased attention to his match preparation and recovery has shown on the field.Credit:Getty Images

“After I broke my cheekbone at the nines, recovery was something to work on. It’s been a big step to me playing consistent footy. I’ve got more energy, I’m around the ball more, I’m a better support player. It’s just a better mindset knowing I’ve done everything possible during the week.

“Cluney has always been the ultimate professional: he watches a lot of video, he does all the recovery, he doesn’t miss anything. In 20s he always tried to pull me along to do that stuff so having him there in pre-season really brought the best out in me.

“He’s like a bit of a life coach for me; he doesn’t let me get away with anything, which is good. I respect him and appreciate him.”

Dufty’s game has also been elevated by a shift in the Dragons’ attacking structure. While it used to revolve around a big, running fullback, Dufty has been given added space and time to make key decisions in their back-line shifts.

Loading

That means the ability to not just run, but showcase his passing game, which came to the fore in Friday night’s win over the Broncos when he floated a supreme cut-out that hit winger Mika Ravalawa flush on the chest, before he stampeded over the line and scored in the corner.

“I love being in that situation, it brings out all three options [pass, kick, run],” Dufty said. “My evolution as a first-grader – everyone always did video of my running game, which can get shut down pretty quickly.

“The Dragons always had an attacking structure with a big fullback. When Flanno [Shane Flanagan] took over the attack halfway through the year when I got put back into the team, we kind of changed it around to footy that suits me. I’ve always been able to pass, it just hasn’t been in our attacking structure as much.”

The signs are getting better for the Dragons, even if the top eight looks a genuine Hail Mary given some of the difficult assignments on their run home, which include the Raiders, Knights and Storm. With their spine all contracted for next season, Dufty wants a front seat for any resurgence.

Sport newsletter

Sports news, results and expert commentary delivered straight to your inbox each weekday. Sign up here.

Most Viewed in Sport

Loading



Source link

St George Illawarra’s Matt Dufty feels for Paul McGregor


Ahead of McGregor’s final game in charge against Parramatta, following Thursday’s announcement he would be leaving his post, Dufty was not about to dance on the grave of the bloke who deemed him not good enough just nine months ago.

“I feel for Mary and his family, he’s a really good guy who never did anything mean, and I really feel for him,” Dufty said.

Matt Dufty is not about to dance on Paul McGregor's grave after the coach told him to find another club.

Matt Dufty is not about to dance on Paul McGregor’s grave after the coach told him to find another club.Credit:Getty Images

“It’s hard to talk about as players because you like coaches and I had ‘Mary’ from when I debuted.”

Late last year, however, it was a different story for the pint-sized fullback and his relationship with McGregor and the club.

“I’ve never not been a good footballer,” Dufty said.

“I played really good footy in 2018, but last year they signed Corey Norman and I ended up playing reserve grade – on the wing – then they told me they didn’t want me at the club any more. They said, ‘don’t come back in the pre-season, you’re free to find another club’.

Matt Dufty and Zac Lomax have added plenty of spark to the Red V attack.

Matt Dufty and Zac Lomax have added plenty of spark to the Red V attack.Credit:Getty Images

“It was shattering for me personally. I was close to going to England. We were talking to Huddersfield and then they signed Aidan Sezer.

“It got to the point I was keen about moving to England and playing in the Super League. I convinced myself it was going to happen. They wanted an answer. Then they signed Aidan.

“If someone asked me to go to England now, I’d say, ‘no way, you’re dreaming’.

“I stayed here, pushed myself in the pre-season, and mentally I matured.”

Dufty, who was also on the radar of the Gold Coast before they signed Corey Thompson, has grown in confidence each game and his speed continues to leave rival teams second-guessing themsevles. He will keep Parramatta players on their toes at Bankwest Stadium.

Dufty said his opposite No. 1, Clint Gutherson, was the fittest and best fullback in the game right now.

“Gutho has gone to a new level this year and has been the best fullback in the comp,” Dufty said.

Loading

“He’s out-worked every fullback in the comp and he’s the fittest.”

As for Blake Ferguson, the Eels winger who is struggling to find his confidence and the try line – he remains without a four-pointer after 13 rounds – Dufty said: “Hopefully we see none of his [celebratory] backflips.”

McGregor will pass the reins to assistant Dean Young after the Bankwest Stadium clash with the former Dragon to rely on the calmness and experience of fellow assistant Shane Flanagan over the final six weeks.

Sport newsletter

Sports news, results and expert commentary delivered straight to your inbox each weekday. Sign up here.

Most Viewed in Sport

Loading



Source link