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Rejuvenated Dufty glad he chose not to pack bags

Having fallen out of favour as St George Illawarra's fullback, Matt Dufty was seriously considering packing his bags and leaving the NRL after last season.

"I was going to go overseas, play overseas and see the world at the same time. Stuff like that was more on my mind," said Dufty, who is signed to the Dragons until the end of 2021.

"It was more a pride thing and I knew I had a lot more to give to the NRL. Growing up as a kid, all you want to do is play NRL so I wouldn't feel right if I didn't give it another crack.

"Now that I'm back, I couldn't imagine leaving."

The speedster made an immediate impact on his Telstra Premiership return last Friday - his first NRL game since July - scoring two tries including a 90-metre intercept in a 32-28 loss to Penrith.

A quad injury to Mikaele Ravalawa resulted in Zac Lomax - who spent the summer training at fullback and wore the No.1 in round one - moving to the wing and opening the door for Dufty.

Dufty takes an intercept and runs 90 metres

"It was unfortunate that Mika got injured but Mary said, 'You're going to play this week' and hopefully I did enough and keep doing enough to hold the spot," Dufty said.

"Nothing changed in my game, I think it was more [my] attitude towards training and towards being a professional athlete. Years previous, I may have been a bit immature with my recovery and the way I approached training and stuff like that.

"This year I've really worked hard to get in the best shape physically and mentally that I've been in.

"I think it's paid off and I'm feeling good."

Although he conceded there are things to work on, Dufty looked assured under the high ball and added attacking spark.

The 24-year-old local junior hasn't sat down with coach Paul McGregor to discuss where he'll stand when Ravalawa returns.

"I want to just keep in a good head-space and try to play good footy. I'll leave that decision up to Mary and the coaches," he said.

Five-eighth Corey Norman praised Dufty's commitment and blinding pace but said there is room for improvement.

"He just brings something different to Lomax as well. But in saying that, Duft is probably disappointed he let in one or two tries as well [against Penrith]," Norman said.

"So he knows what he can bring with the ball but we need him to be a bit better defensively."

St George Illawarra will start the season 0-3 if they don't beat the undefeated Raiders at GIO Stadium on Thursday night.

Get Caught Up: Round 2

But a "pissed off" Norman is adamant things aren't as bleak as they may seem.

"We've put ourselves in great positions to win games and we've lost both games. I think our ill-discipline and lack of respect for the ball is what's hurting us," he said.

"You just can't turn over cheap ball, especially early on in the rounds where it's so important to hold the ball, complete your sets, kick long.

"We're putting extra pressure and workload on ourselves. We're making an extra 100 to 150 tackles more than the opposition and NRL is hard enough to win when it's 50-50, let alone when you're giving the ball to the opposition all the time.

"Everyone's annoyed and we want to win. But in saying that, it's not like we're getting pulled apart by all this shape. A lot of tries have come off kicks down on our line. We've got to stop these shitty little tries."

Every try from Round 2

Halfback Ben Hunt pinpointed defence as the side's main issue and admitted he was disappointed in his own tackling effort.

From Dufty's view at the back, those deficiencies are a simple fix.

"I think we only get into trouble when we get too many people in a tackle or we get our inside man coming from the outside," Dufty said.

"I think it gets our whole defensive system a bit haywire. The whole squad has been working really hard in video and on the field today to get it right.

"We've all seen we can score points this year, I think it's just getting back to the old Dragons where we didn't let any in."

Acknowledgement of Country

St George Illawarra Dragons respect and honour the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders peoples, where our games are played, our programs are conducted and in the communities we support.

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