Much to the surprise of many fans and experts, Dufty was informed by the Dragons that he wouldn’t be re-signed beyond this season, despite being arguably the club’s best attacking weapon.
The 25-year-old has been linked to the Broncos and Bulldogs — two clubs that are in the market for an established No.1 — but Channel Nine’s Danny Weidler is reporting the Raiders are the favourites to sign him.
“Canberra are genuinely interested. They seem him quite possibly as their fullback for next year and they’re very interested in signing him. The club will confirm that at any time you’d imagine,” Weidler told Sky Sports Radio’s Big Sports Breakfast.
“You’ve also got the likes of a Brisbane or a Bulldogs.
“They’re the three clubs but I think at the moment Canberra are happy to say that they are very interested and very keen to try and get Matt Dufty.”
The Raiders already have a very capable fullback on their books, in Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad, until the end of 2023. The New Zealand international has been restricted to just five games so far this season due to a neck injury and he’s attacking prowess has been seriously missed.
However, according to Weidler, the Raiders see Nicoll-Klokstad dominating in the centres more than fullback and are willing to shift him to secure Dufty.
“I think Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad might end up in the centres. He’s viewed as a very good player by Canberra but his speed isn’t the same as a lot of other fullbacks so they see him as a very strong centre,” he said.
“So that could happen and that’s how you could see Dufty, if he does go to Canberra, end up at fullback.”
It comes amid Curtis Scott’s murky future in the nation’s capital. The centre has been stood down while the NRL Integrity Unit investigates an off-field incident. There’s been suggestions that Scott — who is signed until the end of 2023 — will have his contract ripped up over this incident, which would ultimately open up a hole that needs filling in the centres.
“I’ve been making a lot of calls about it and the best reason I can get — this is not my opinion, it’s what I’m being told — is that Matt Dufty doesn’t necessarily take criticism well from a coach,” he said.
“I think if that’s the reason he’s being let go or not wanted by the Dragons, I’d be persisting with him if I was the Dragons. I’d trying to get the best out of him, I’d be sitting him down and helping him work through that.
“That may even be a slightly old criticism of him and maybe he has been working on that. I find it quite fascinating that they’ve let what I think is their best attacking weapon go.”