AN IN-DEPTH chat with premiership captain Ben Hornby has helped young gun Matt Dufty avoid becoming the forgotten man of St George Illawarra’s campaign this season.&nbsp; Dufty was a member of the 2016 under 20s team of the year and earmarked as a future St George Illawarra.&nbsp; But he admits losing his way this year trying to prove he was ready for the big time. “I started the season pretty slow, I wasn’t playing good footy,” he said. “Then I just had a talk with Benny Hornby and some of the other coaches, about not trying to focus on getting to the NRL and just to focus on playing good footy (for Illawarra’s NSW Premiership feeder team). Since I’ve done that, my season has turned around, I’m really happy with where I’m at.” Dufty’s early-season struggles had resulted in him falling behind experienced winger Jason Nightingale, utility player Kurt Mann&nbsp;and Shellharbour junior Jai Field in the pecking order. But Dufty and Field are considered as the main contenders to take over Josh Dugan next season, after the NSW representative player signed with Cronulla, following a prolonged stand-off with the Dragons. Hornby –&nbsp;the joint venture club’s games record holder – who debuted in 2000 and spent some of his career at fullback, before winning the&nbsp;2010 title as captain and fullback, was the voice of reason for Dufty. “Definitely, it’s mostly mental,” Dufty said of his turnaround in form. “When you’re just worrying about wanting to play first grade, you’re not worrying about playing footy for the team you’re playing in. “That was a big thing for me, just trying to focus ion playing footy for (Illawarra) and playing good there.” Dufty was named as part of Paul McGregor’s 21-man squad for Friday’s showdown with the Gold Coast, but will line-up for Illawarra against Mounties in Canberra on Saturday.&nbsp;Having won last year’s NSW Premiership and national championship crowns as the Cutters, Illawarra are seventh on the ladder, but just three points behind Penrith and Mounties in the top four. “One of the goals is to finish top four and get that home semi,” Dufty said.