It was an unfortunate game for Euan Aitken on Friday night, and he’ll now be forever associated with Katoni Staggs’s three-metre palm-off, much like Jamie Soward was when Greg Inglis ran over the top of him in 2009.
For once Ian Millward got something right: the non-retention of Aitken was the right decision.
On the same play I’m not sure what Matt Dufty was thinking when he stepped out of the way of Staggs. It looked like he was afraid to put his body on the line. Would James Tedesco make the same play? I don’t think so. It was a very bad look.
Dufty remains an enigma to me. He’s obviously an elite attacking talent but is very suspect under the high ball and too slight a build to be a reliable last line of defence. How many bombs have been left to bounce this year? Defence like that is not going to cut it if the Dragons want to be a competitive top-four team in the years to come.
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There’s an extremely promising junior who’ll be promoted to the top 30 and playing in the Canterbury Cup next year: Cody Ramsey. He was the St George under-20 player of the year in 2019.
Just as fast and elusive as Dufty, he also possesses a passing game but is a bigger body. Ramsey ripped the Perth Nines apart earlier this year, and it’ll be interesting to see how that plays out next season. Dufty is contracted until the end of 2021.
For anyone who’s not familiar with Cody I advise you go to YouTube and search for his name. There’s a heap of highlights to be found.
The modern fullback is a five-tool player, requiring:
speed; a passing game; a kicking game; confidence under the high ball; and solidness in one-on-one defence.
I’m giving Dufty 2.5 out of 5. By comparison, Darius Boyd was a five in 2010, which won us the competition.
The question I pose to you is: could the Dragons make a grand final with Dufty playing fullback? Could you imagine losing because he didn’t contest a bomb like in the recent Roosters game?
In other Dragons gossip, a report came up on Sunday that we’re looking at former Canberra coach David Furner as an option to take over in 2021. Furner is currently an assistant at Newcastle and has certainly flown under the radar. He hasn’t been a head coach in Australia since 2013, but he did coach Leeds in 2019, posting five wins and ten losses.
I’ve also seen a report that the Dragons are interested in English winger Tom Johnstone, but surely there can’t be anything to that. The team is pretty well covered in the outside backs, and there are other far more important tasks Millward should be looking at, like re-signing Jacob Host and Tristan Sailor or pinching Christian Welch from Melbourne.