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Matt Dufty in action for the Dragons NYC side in 2016.

St George Illawarra is unlikely to enter the player market for a fullback next season to replace the departing Josh Dugan.

Director of Rugby League pathways Ian Millward provided Dragons fans with an update on recruitment earlier in the week to discuss their plan to fill the void of the Australian international.

The Dragons are confident in the current crop of youngsters coming through the club's ranks with utility Jai Field and Penshurst junior Matt Dufty both candidates to take over the role in 2018.

"Anyone who is hearing we're on the market for a fullback from another club – that's not the case," Millward told Dragons TV.

"Our plan was always to fill that void internally and we feel we've got numerous options to replace him."

Millward said the club was more eager to replace Wests Tigers-bound Russell Packer in the forward pack and after recruiting Dragons prop Paul Vaughan – who has proven to be one of the signings of the year - at the backend of last season, the club are willing to stay patient.

"We're very active in the market to replace Russell and we also feel we've got some really good emerging players in our ranks," he said.

"Blake Lawrie played Junior Kangaroos this year and Josh Kerr played for Queensland in the under 20s last year – both are going well in the lower grades.

"But, we do want to get a front-rower and are looking at all our options and there are some out there we are considering.

"We want to be patient and were with Paul Vaughan before we signed him."

With the addition of Broncos halfback Ben Hunt in 2018, there was speculation last week injured half Drew Hutchison could be on the outer at the club with the Dragons junior off-contract at the end of the season.

Millward put the rumour to bed and said the luckless playmaker is in negotiations to stay in Wollongong, however the decision was momentarily in the 22-year-old's hands. 

"We have tabled an offer to Drew that is currently in the hands of his agent and have had one-on-one chats with him about where we see his future with us in the next 12 months and options for him to continue to improve his game," he said.

"Some decisions will have to be made by both parties sooner rather than later but we're keen to keep him."

Millward was more confident in extending the contract of utility Kurt Mann and believed he was proving to be an integral part in Paul McGregor's line-up. 

The versatility of Mann and depth in the centre position made the club's decision to allow Taane Milne to depart the club at the end of the season all the more easier. 

"We are in deep negotiations with Kurt and have been positive from both parties," Millward said.

"He can play so many positions and is a really talented player that is important to our plans moving forward."

McGregor's side had no answers for the Bulldogs on Monday and will be without Origin pair Dugan and Tyson Frizell for the clash.

The Dragons face a full-strength Parramatta outfit on Sunday afternoon who are reeling from their 26-point thrashing to the Cowboys in Darwin. 


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