Dufty benefiting from Barba highlight reel

Matt Dufty watched highlights of Ben Barba before reclaiming St George Illawarra's No.1 jersey and finding his passing game this season.

MATTHEW DUFTY of the Dragons.
MATTHEW DUFTY of the Dragons. Picture: Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images

Matt Dufty has revealed studying Ben Barba highlights reels helped him find his best after reclaiming the fullback spot for St George Illawarra.

Dufty has been the Dragons' outstanding player for the past three weeks, bouncing back after being dropped for round four.

Usually regarded as a running No.1, the 24-year-old has discovered his passing game since being recalled with five try assists in three games.

Both he and coach Paul McGregor put that down largely to a rejigged Dragons attack, which is now operating much flatter and with less block plays to capitalise on the quicker game since the lockdown.

"Looking at the Dragons the last few years we have always had a running fullback," Dufty said.

"We had Duges (Josh Dugan), Lowy (Zac Lomax). It was more the running style of footy that I have as well."

Dufty said the input of assistant coaches Shane Flanagan and James Shepherd, helped.

Both came from Cronulla where they worked with Barba, another small fullback with blistering speed and step.

Barba also had slick hands when at his best in the NRL, notching 23 try assists to go with his 23 tries in his 2012 Dally M season.

Then, under Flanagan at Cronulla, he set up 18 tries in 2016 as he helped them to the title.

"I watched his highlights a couple of weeks ago before the Sharks game (in round five)," Dufty said.

"He is the style of player I can take a lot out of his game and his Dally M form.

"It's helped me a lot positioning-wise and effort-wise. It's something I want to continue to improve on.

"In 2018 when I was at my best, I was bouncing around the field and running across field and doing things like that.

"But I fell into the game plan of not playing much footy that is front of me.

"Structure is good, but I like off-the-cuff footy, broken play and stuff like that.

"I think that's the style of footy that suits us better."

Dufty's work on his ball-playing has paid off.

While he has the advantage of previously playing with halfback Adam Clune in under-20s, he has unlocked Zac Lomax at right centre with good ball.

"It's starting to come together now which is good for the team," Dufty said.


AAP