The Dragons still have two roster spots to fill before June 30.
They resisted formalising any application for salary cap relief until de Belin had exhausted his legal avenues challenging the NRL’s policy, hopeful he would be able to return before their deflating loss to the Knights in Mudgee.
Dragons coach Paul McGregor hinted at changes after Mitchell Pearce and Kalyn Ponga embarrassed the Red V.
It’s understood Dufty is one player under pressure despite in the past month logging two try-of-the-season contenders, a scintillating solo effort against the Roosters on Anzac Day and a length-of-the-field team beauty against the Eels.
Dufty started the year on the interchange bench but was whisked back into the starting side after captain Gareth Widdop dislocated his shoulder.
Corey Norman’s imminent return and the emergence of Jai Field will force McGregor into making another crucial decision in relation to his spine, which has been ravaged by injury this year.
If it’s not right, as a player you’d rather get it right so it’s not in the back of your mind heading into a game thinking about it
Norman rated himself an outside chance of making his return from a fractured cheekbone in the local derby against the Sharks at WIN Stadium on Sunday.
«I guess if it’s fully healed the plan will be to come back [against the Sharks],» Norman said. «But we have to see how it feels.
«If it’s not right, as a player you’d rather get it right so it’s not in the back of your mind heading into a game thinking about it. If I do miss the Sharks we’ve got the bye then I’m back and I’m probably not even thinking about it.
«We’ll see what happens but if it feels right I’ll be out there.»
Norman underwent surgery after a sickening head clash with Parramatta winger Maika Sivo, which was the first of two games where the Dragons blew big half-time leads before being torched by Newcastle.
«The first week after the surgery I didn’t do much,» Norman said. «You’ve just got to sit around. You can’t do any rehab and it’s a bit of a process.
«Even at training the other day I was just walking around watching the boys train and I was like, ‘I’m bored. What am I doing?’ I’m not a good watcher.»
Adam Pengilly is a Sports reporter for The Sydney Morning Herald.