“I really do try to play the style he wants me to play, but I can’t help it sometimes when I’m on the field, and I’ll go away from structure.
“There’s just a difference of opinion with what he wants and what I can actually bring.
“I was actually a little worried I wouldn’t play again. It would have been upsetting if I had played my last game, but I’ve got another opportunity now. I had a few conversations with Hook. He wanted to do something different with the team. He wanted to do his own thing.”
Dufty said at the start of the season he was disappointed the club had dragged its feet with kick-starting fresh contract talks, especially after his impressive 2020 campaign. While often criticised for his defence, Dufty remains their most electric attacking weapon, especially with his speed and passing game.
“It hurt. It still hurts I won’t be here,” Dufty said.
Canterbury announced Dufty would join the club for one year, and he has remained in constant contact with Dogs coach Trent Barrett. New football manager Phil Gould also reached out in recent weeks and told him he would offer him all the support he needed once he arrived at Belmore.
“The one-year deal was probably best for both parties,” Dufty said.
“I know ‘Baz’ [Barrett] has a lot of faith in me. I just want to play good football and play consistently.
“I spoke to a few clubs. I also spoke to Leeds to cover all my bases. [Coach] Richie Agar was an outstanding bloke to talk to.
“But as I’ve said all along, I did not want to go to the Super League just yet and still believed I had something to give in the NRL.
“The way Baz spoke, how he could improve my game, it was the best opportunity for me. He phoned me one day, we had a Zoom call the next, then I signed. It was the quickest deal I’ve ever done.”
Dufty was one of the dozen Dragons sanctioned for attending Vaughan’s barbecue, with the one-match bans handed down by the NRL – as well as Vaughan’s sacking by the club – all but ending the club’s finals pursuit.
There were reports at the time Dufty sprinted home once police arrived to break up the illegal COVID-19 gathering, an allegation he denied. He said Vaughan was contemplating retiring from football, but was motivated again after spending a short time out of the game and subsequently signing his own new deal with the Dogs.
“I didn’t sprint away from the police, even though I know that’s what came out [in the press],” Dufty said.
“We messed up, we really messed up, and we were sorry. It should never have happened.
“The only thing we could have done after that was to come out and play good footy. Now I’m back that’s what I’m planning on doing.”
As for the public fallout there would have been had de Belin been appointed captain for the Roosters game, which was discussed internally at the start of the week before the club went with Tariq Sims, Dufty could not understand the drama.
“He’s been through a lot, but if anyone sees him around training, you know he’s a leader, and your captain is meant to be a leader,” Dufty said.
“He’s played Origin, and he was the first middle to play 80 minutes for us this year. I think last weekend he made nearly 50 tackles.
“Had he been named captain none of the boys would have blown up; we’d be happy for him.”