The Bulldogs and coach Trent Barrett are set to launch a fresh poaching raid on the Panthers for a Grand Final pair.
Meanwhile the Dragons are only a 50/50 chance of re-signing a star back.
Read on for all the latest NRL Transfer Whispers.
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BULLDOGS LAUNCH ANOTHER PANTHERS RAID
Trent Barrett doesn’t appear to have a coaching code with Ivan Cleary like the one Trent Robinson maintains he has with the new Sharks coach Craig Fitzgibbon.
The Sydney Morning Herald reported Barrett’s Bulldogs are set to target off-contract Panthers duo Kurt Capewell and Brent Naden.
A former Panthers assistant, Barrett has already lured young gun playmaker Matt Burton to Belmore, despite maintaining he wouldn’t raid the Panthers’ playing stocks when he took over at the Bulldogs.
The Panthers have repeatedly rejected the Bulldogs’ attempts to lure Burton to the club earlier this season and he now finds himself entrenched as a starting centre at Penrith.
Barrett also unsuccessfully attempted to sign prop Spencer Leniu during the pre-season, with the forward opting to stay at Penrith.
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Capewell has been linked with a move north to the Broncos, while Naden has been targeted by the Wests Tigers.
However the Bulldogs will be cashed-up with 15 players off-contract this season, including Will Hopoate and Dylan Napa, so Belmore looms as the most lucrative option for both stars.
25-year-old Naden has scored 20 tries in 30 games for the Panthers since his NRL debut in 2019 and played in the Grand Final loss to the Storm off the bench.
Capewell at 27 has scored 14 tries in 79 NRL games for the Sharks and Panthers and starred in three Origins for the Maroons in his debut series in 2020.
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DRAGONS STAR 50/50 TO STAY
Dragons fullback Matt Dufty rates himself only a 50/50 chance to stay at the club beyond 2021.
Off-contract at the end of the season, Dufty revealed to The Sydney Morning Herald that he is unsure of the club’s plans when it comes to retaining him long-term and the uncertainty is starting to take its toll.
“With every week that goes by, it gets a bit more stressful,” Dufty said.
The 25-year-old has scored 40 tries in 73 games for the Dragons since his NRL debut in 2017, including six tries from as many matches in 2021.
Despite his strong start to the year, coach Anthony Griffin said after he starred against the Eels in Round 5 that: “He was good but he needs to be.”
Those comments suggest Griffin is not sold on Dufty as his long-term fullback just yet.
Dufty made a crucial error in the Dragons’ last start 20-14 loss to the Warriors, but he held his own against Warriors superstar Roger Tuivasa-Sheck.
He comes up against the game’s best fullback James Tedesco in Round 7, but feels he has the runs on the board in the position and wants to stay in the No.1 jersey.
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However given the strength of fullbacks in the NRL, he feels his best shot at playing in his preferred position is at the Dragons.
“There are some things in the works, my manager is talking to a few other clubs, so we’ll see what happens,” Dufty told the Herald.
“Right now it feels like it’s a 50/50 scenario [whether I stay here].
“I’d love to be at the Dragons, it feels like we’re building something really good here with the people we have and the squad we’re building.
“If you look at all the other teams’ fullbacks, they have a decent fullback there – so if I want to play fullback, the Dragons are my best option.
“I love playing there, it’s my main position. Last year and this year I feel like I’m starting to cement myself as a fullback in the NRL.″
Originally published asBarrett’s fresh poaching raid on Panthers duo, Dragons star’s ‘stressful’ call: Transfer Whispers
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