They might be close friends off the field, but St George Illawarra backs Zac Lomax and Matt Dufty are looking forward to engaging in a fierce battle for the starting fullback position.
The contest comes after a forgettable year for the position, with five players wearing the no.1 jumper for the Dragons in 2019.
The first was departed captain Gareth Widdop, who's stint at the back was cut short by a shoulder dislocation, with Dufty, Lomax, Corey Norman and Tristan Sailor all filling in at some point in the season.
Lomax has the early advantage for round one 2020, with coach Paul McGregor recently stating the 20-year-old will have first go at the starting role.
Having played 17 NRL games in a range of positions across the past two seasons, Lomax said he's determined to lock down the fullback jersey.
With a full pre-season of training ahead, Lomax said he's determined to make the position his own.
"That's the position that I prefer," Lomax said. "I've been training there at the moment, looking to learn as much as I can during the pre-season and I've really enjoyed the last week.
"I've definitely learnt a fair bit already, we've got some good competition and we've got some good coaches that I can learn a lot off, so I'm really looking forward to it.
"It's always healthy to have it among the team because you're always pushing each other to be better. The more we're doing that, the better we're going to be able to perform on the field."
Lomax accepts the fullback battle will be intense, with Dufty expressing his desire to reclaim the role.
Like Lomax, Dufty is looking forward to the contest throughout the summer and he's confident he has the skillset to make the fullback position his own.
"With Zac and Tristan there, it will be a good battle," Dufty said. "I still feel I've got a lot to prove. It's a pride thing as well for me, I think I'm good enough to get that spot, I just have to prove it.
"I'm just working on those one-percenters, catching balls on the full, being in the right position, being there when there's an offload.
"That's what all the good fullbacks do, they back up and catch balls on the full and I think if I can do that and get in the right position in defence, then I'll give myself the best opportunity."
Lomax has been the centre of recent speculation about his future, the youngster off contract at the end of 2020.
His manager is currently testing the waters and, unsurprisingly, Lomax has attracted plenty of interest from rival clubs.
The Temora product, however, said he's committed to the Dragons and ensuring he has a breakout season in 2020.
"It's good to be back and ripping in at training," Lomax said. "These boys that I get to train with every day, I love them. They're my family and I can't wait until the season ahead.
"There's a process at the moment that my manager's going through. That's why we're on board with each other and yes, that's his job, he's looking after that."
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