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St George Illawarra Dragons fullback Matt Dufty has welcomed becoming part of the first-grade squad and training within a professional environment.

The local Penshurst RSL junior is a recent graduate of the Club’s National Youth Competition team where he spent three seasons representing the Young Dragons.

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Dufty has praised the close bonds that have formed this pre-season as well as his senior teammates’ openness to assisting the younger members with their development.

The custodian also admits he has welcomed the pre-season training and conditioning program as have the younger members of the squad.

“The time away during the off-season went quickly and before I knew it I was back training, this time as part of the first-grade squad,” said Dufty.

“There are six or seven players around my age training this pre-season as well as four younger than me so it’s a pretty young squad this pre-season.

“The pre-season has been pretty tough but we’re all sticking together.

“I was involved last season in the first-grade pre-season squad but was still eligible to compete in the NYC.

“This year is different as we have new performance staff who have been making us run a lot but looking after us with recovery.

“I love being around a professional environment and having my own locker as well as having all the boys around me.

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“The senior players have been welcoming if us younger players need any advice as they’re there for us and it shows we are a pretty tight team.

“I want to get my body as fit as it can leading up to the trials and I’ll just keep working hard and see what the future holds.”