Dragons youngster Matt Dufty is upbeat about his rivalry with his friend Jai Field for the No.1 jersey this season.
Dufty looks to be in line to start the campaign at fullback, having been handed a new deal during the off-season.
We are too good of mates to fight over something like that because we both know how good we both are.Matt Dufty
He wouldn't feel good about edging out his close friend Field but says the pair both know they have first-grade futures at St George Illawarra.
The 22-year-old added: "Me and Fieldy are really good mates off the field so it is good to have that competition there, I think that is what you need in a rugby league team. If someone is there pushing you, you are both going to get better and you are always looking over your shoulder so it helps you to play good footy.
"We are too good of mates to fight over something like that because we both know how good we both are and we both know that eventually we will both play in first grade," Dufty said.
Dufty and Field played together in the Dragons under 20s and Illawarra's NSW Cup teams but it's the former who is best placed to earn a starting spot having started the last seven games of last year at fullback.
With Ben Hunt having joined the club, Dufty will be part of a spine featuring international halves in the former Brisbane Broncos playmaker and captain Gareth Widdop who starred for England at the World Cup.
"You have got two of the best halves in the world and Cam McInness was probably in the top four hookers in the comp so it is definitely exciting playing with a spine like that, plus the forward pack we have got - they're huge," said Dufty.
St George Illawarra are 5000/1 to win the grand final.
The Dragons are 1/1000 to finish in the top eight.
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