Dufty has no issue with being targeted
Match-winning Dragons fullback Matt Dufty has no problem with opposition forwards targeting him as the Raiders did during Sunday's match in Mudgee.
Dufty hit back well from a costly early error that put the Raiders in range to score the opening try of the match, conjuring a brilliant solo try in the second half to effectively win the game for his team, having also played a key role in creating a wonderful and crucial team try finished off by skipper Gareth Widdop.
He also came in for some rough treatment from the Raiders forwards, who clearly had a plan to make life tough for pint-sized speedster.
As well as a few other physical challenges, both Josh Papalii (high tackle) and Joe Tapine (shoulder charge) finished up on report for challenges on Dufty.
Speaking after the game, the 22-year-old Penshurst RSL junior welcomed the contact and couldn't keep the smile off his face.
"Teams do that [target ball-players] but that's footy and that's why we play, you love the contact and the collisions," Dufty said.
"It makes footy footy and if you can't handle it, it's not the sport for you. We've got a big forward pack ourselves and when they tell you 'we've got your back Duff' it makes you feel a lot better."
He said he had noticed the game-planning from rival teams trying to limit his influence on matches was on another level compared to in the under-20s and Intrust Super Premiership competitions.
"You've just got to go out and adjust to how you play footy and when you take those opportunities and when to run and when to take a tackle. It's all a learning experience, I'm growing more confident in my role every week," he added.
One of the key developments in his game this year had been the ability to bounce back from errors – not that he's made a lot – but the dropped ball that helped Canberra to an early 4-0 lead could have been disastrous for his confidence a year ago.
"That's the big thing I've been working on moving from 20s to grade, you can't let one little error affect you for the rest of the game. You've got to let it go and keep playing footy," Dufty said.
"I definitely feel more comfortable week in week out. Having the backing of Gaz and Hunty [halves Gareth Widdop and Ben Hunt] to make plays and they've got confidence in me to do it, that gives you confidence to go out and do your thing.''
His coach Paul McGregor also praised the performance.
"He came up with a few errors but great to see he didn't go into being quiet and for a young bloke that's really pleasing because he's still learning his craft at fullback," McGregor said.