Matt Dufty credits Gareth Widdop for 2019 improvement
St George Illawarra Dragons fullback Matt Dufty says club captain Gareth Widdop has been a key figure behind his improvement this season.
After starting 2019 on the bench for Paul McGregor’s team and even being dropped for one game – Dufty finally got an opportunity at the back following a lengthy shoulder injury suffered by Gareth Widdop after the club’s round three golden point win over Brisbane.
Since starting in the number one jersey, Dufty hasn’t looked back excelling in his favoured fullback position and allowing a settled spine including Corey Norman, Ben Hunt and Cameron McInnes to gel.
Dufty says he’s thankful for Widdop’s mentoring, despite his injury.
“He’s our club captain and a world class player and one of the best players in the world,” Dufty said.
“Obviously what happened to Gaz is heartbreaking to our club and to our squad because he’s such a main part of our team.
“Gaz is still there mentoring me and telling me where I can get better.
“It means a lot to me as a young kid having the skipper around and still mentoring me.”
With the club currently on a four game winning streak including three of those in the dying stages and by two points or less, an ANZAC Day clash beckons against premiers the Sydney Roosters.
It’s a tradition which brings out the best from both teams with three of the last four games decided by two points or less.
Dufty – who grew up playing rugby league for Penshurst RSL says ANZAC Day means a lot to him – and cannot wait for the opportunity to run out for the traditional match this week.
“Playing for an RSL club from the age of four, we’re brought up with a lot of ANZAC tradition,” Dufty said.
“At our junior club we used to walk down the street and in the parade.
“It’s always been touching and interesting and to see all the old veterans, it still means a lot to them and to the country back to our roots.
“It’s just a very important day to recognise those people who gave us the life we have today.”
Dufty has played 38 NRL games and scored 17 tries since debuting late in 2017 for the club.
The ANZAC Day clash kicks off at 4:05pm at the SCG.
Click ‘play’ to hear the full interview below.