The real reason Dragons are splitting with Dufty

The Canberra Raiders are “genuinely interested” in luring Matt Dufty to the nation’s capital and are willing to shift current fullback Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad to accommodate the out-of-favour Dragon.

St George Illawarra’s eagerness to part with Dufty, arguably the club’s best attacking weapon, perplexed many around the game when Nine’s Danny Weidler first broke the news on 100% Footy last month.

Since then, Dufty has been linked to a number of rivals, including the Bulldogs and the Broncos, but according to Weidler the Raiders have now entered the chase with a legitimate bid.

“Canberra are genuinely interested. They see 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 The 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’ current fullback, Nicoll-Klokstad, is signed until the end of 2023.

The club is not thought to be keen to part ways with the Kiwis Test star who has shown promise ever since storming onto the scene in 2019, but according to Weidler the Raiders see Nicoll-Klokstad evolving into a centre as his game develops.

“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.”

As for why the Dragons want Dufty out, that largely remains a mystery, but according to Weidler, it could be to do with his reaction to criticism.

“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 be 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.”

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