The Dragons are reportedly ready to let go of boom youngster Matt Dufty if it means luring off-contract star Jarryd Hayne to the club.
Ramping up their effort to sign the 30-year-old former NSW and Australia fullback, the Dragons are believed to be ready to release Dufty to free up the necessary funds, Fairfax is reporting.
The 22-year-old is a local junior who remains off contract at the end of next season with rival clubs now able to compete for his signature.
However, with pre-season already underway for most clubs, options for Dufty in 2019 are slim.
After making his debut in 2017, Dufty’s speed and agility made him a fast favourite with Dragons fans but his diminutive size is believed to be a sticking point.
In 2018 he played all 26 games for the Dragons, scoring 13 tries.
Without Hayne, the Dragons are lacking size and power in their backline after releasing Nene Macdonald to North Queensland. They would need to release Dufty in order to get close to Hayne’s asking price of $700,000.
The Eels are furiously trying to offload a player in order to keep Hayne at the club, where he finished the season in a flourish.
However, time is running out as interest dries up.
It’s understood Michael Jennings, Corey Norman and Mitchell Moses are the players being shopped around to squeeze Hayne in under the salary cap.
NRL.com is reporting that the Knights, who were in talks with Jennings, are no longer interested in the former representative centre after signing backline utility Hymel Hunt.
If the Eels can’t shed another player before the season starts, they have only around $200,000 per season to offer Hayne.