St George Illawarra Dragons National Youth Competition team fullback Matt Dufty is grateful for the opportunity to be invited and take part in the first-grade pre-season train-on squad.
The local Penshurst RSL junior is part of a contingent of Young Dragons players invited by Head Coach Paul McGregor to take part in the pre-season training sessions after stand-out performances at the Under 20’s level.
Dufty, 19, confesses he has embraced everything about the experience including the early starts each morning as well as being able to pick the brain of teammates including Josh Dugan.
“It’s been an awesome experience for me being able to train with the first-grade squad this pre-season,” said Dufty.
“It’s been pretty hot here down in Wollongong these past couple of days which has been a change but I’ve been taking a lot out of whatever I’ve been told from the first-grade boys.
“One player in particular is Josh Dugan who has only recently returned to training so I’ve been asking him a lot of questions to improve my game as fullback.
“It’s been a wake-up call having to get on the road so early in the morning from Sydney to arrive in time to start training but its part and parcel of what you need to do to be the best.
“I want to continue training hard throughout the pre-season as it’s a great opportunity to also learn off all the first-grade coaching staff and I know that’s what the other NYC boys who are also training at the moment are taking out of this.
“It’s great that there are a few guys my age who have been invited to train as we have all grown up together and it makes everything seem that little bit more familiar.
“It was always a dream for me being able to play for the Dragons especially coming through the lower junior-grade ranks here at the Club.
“It’s pretty surreal now that I am here.”