On-field success mirrors off-field changes at Dragons, says Dufty

St George Illawarra's improvements on the field in 2018 have been underlined by crucial changes off it, fullback Matt Dufty has revealed ahead of Sunday's blockbuster against the Melbourne Storm.

The Dragons are united on and off the field, whereas last season the playing group was much more cliquey away from the club.

Settled: Dragons fullback Matt Dufty says the club is building on and off the field.

Wives and girlfriends have also been embraced as the club builds a culture under coach Paul McGregor that the Dragons faithful hope will deliver a first NRL premiership in eight years.

"We're more of a team this year," Dufty said. "Being in the squad last year there were a few groups here and there, but this year everyone has coffee with everyone. We've just bonded as a team really and I think that's gone a long way. We've got everyone's backs on the field as well as off the field.

"We got to just know everyone better, we got to know people's kids, names, birthdays, just stuff like that. It brings you a lot closer to the team.

"We had to remember questions and then get to know our teammates in pre-season. It might sound stupid, but it goes a long way to get to know your friends off the field as well as on the field.

"We've got everyone's partners involved as well. There's a lot of functions just for the partners that we're not invited to which makes them feel part of the team as well, and the boys really appreciate it."

Sunday's clash between St George and Melbourne is one of the most anticipated matches of the season and gives the Dragons a chance to extend their lead on top of the NRL ladder.

McGregor is desperate to pick up as many wins as possible in May with State Of Origin looming on the horizon and threatening to decimate a St George forward pack that has been the best in the league this season.

Hooker Cameron McInnes, prop Paul Vaughan and back-rowers Jack de Belin and Tariq Sims are being touted as possible Origin debutants, while Tyson Frizell will likely be one of the first picked for NSW.

"I'm sure Mary's thinking about it, but the boys haven't really spoken about it, they know they've got to continue playing good footy," Dufty said.

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