In-form Dragons fullback Matt Dufty says there is a lot he can learn from counterpart James Tedesco’s game as he prepares to take on a Roosters side brimming with confidence.
Dufty has been one of St George Illawarra’s best in back-to-back wins with his running and ever improving passing game on song in the new spine coach Paul McGregor has selected.
Dufty and halves pairing Corey Norman and Adam Clune all had try assists in Saturday’s 20-8 win over the Titans.
Tedesco left the field after he was concussed in the Roosters win over the Eels on Saturday night but after the game was walking around and in good spirits.
He also had his hand on ice in the sheds. If he recovers in time for Friday night’s clash at Bankwest Stadium then Dufty will go head-to-head with the fullback considered by many to be the best player in the world today.
Lomax gets put into space by Dufty
Tedesco has taken his passing game to another level at the Roosters and creates plenty of opportunities for his supports, while doing everything at speed and precision.
"Teddy plays everything at speed, and I think the Roosters in general play at speed which is what sets them apart at the moment," Dufty said.
"Everyone is pushing around the ball and if there is a half chance everyone capitalises.
"Looking at Teddy there is a reason he is the best at the moment and I think I can take a lot out of his game.
Match Highlights: Titans v Dragons
"Everyone knows I like to run the ball but in the NRL teams adapt really quick to what you do. I think if I can bring in that pass, it gives teams something else to study."
In the 30-16 win over the Sharks in round five Dufty ran for 197m and had two line break assists and two try assists while scoring one himself.
Against the Titans the Dragons fullback ran for 149m, and had two line break assists and a try assist. His slick pass to Zac Lomax in the first half put the Dragons centre into space to score the side’s opening try.
"The way we have structured our attack the last couple of weeks is really suiting my style," Dufty said.
"Having Dozer [Ben Hunt] at dummy half gives us that different attacking factor. It brings a bit of spark and creativity.
"All the spine is clicking at the moment.
"It wasn’t the prettiest [against Gold Coast] but we got two points. We have got a big challenge next week against the Roosters and we are going to have to be a lot better."
Ben Hunt doesn’t want to play the bench hooker role long-term but said he was enjoying it because the team was winning and needed him there at the moment. As for Dufty, he said his form was red hot.
"The last two weeks he has been really good," Hunt said.
"The last 12 to 18 months he has bounced around a bit, in and out of the side, but he is a real confidence player and the last month we have been back he has been training really confident, and being around him he is bouncing off the walls and really keen to play.
Norman floats a pass over to Ravalawa
"That is showing in his performances."
Coach Paul McGregor is liking what he sees from his new spine after being forced to make changes, with new half Clune already making progress.
"The combinations take time to build, and there has been a lot of movement in that spine area just due to the fact that we weren’t getting what we needed," McGregor said.
"The changes have been effective the last couple of weeks and will continue to improve, but generally it is good when your important people have the finesse to finish off and execute right.
"[Clune] is the type of guy that knows the game very well and he is probably not overstepping his mark at the moment with the players he has got around him.
"In time he will take more control and when he does that we will be a better team again."