‘Bloody exciting’: Why Ben Hunt is open to staying longer at Dragons

Ben Hunt says he would love to remain at St George Illawarra beyond his current six-year mega deal so he can be a part of the exciting future being generated by the local crop of juniors already locked in to long-term contracts.

Hunt likened the hype and on-field chemistry between young Dragons Tyrell Sloan, Junior Amone, Jayden Sullivan, Max and Mat Feagai and Zac Lomax to the Generation Next Broncos he was a part of - and who eventually went on to feature in the 2015 Grand Final.

A proud Queenslander, Hunt is keen to return to the Sunshine State, and would be an ideal target for NRL newcomers Redcliffe. Hunt also happens to be good friends with Wayne Bennett who coached him at the Broncos, as well as Queensland’s shock Origin series win in 2020.

But Hunt, who has already taken up an option for a sixth and final year in the Red V for 2023, told the Herald there were so many reasons to try and stay beyond his current arrangement.

“I’m definitely open to staying at the Dragons beyond next year, and it’s bloody exciting seeing these kids come through,” Hunt said.

“It reminds of me when I was their age and how I came through with a good core group of players at the Broncos, including ‘Macca’ [Andrew McCullough], Corey Norman, Josh McGuire and Alex Glenn.

“These guys now have their chance to make their own mark and set the club up for the future. They hang out together every day, they are in each other’s pockets, and the few games they all played together last year they were all sniffing around each other for the ball.

“When it’s all said and done, my family want to get back to Queensland and live in the Sunshine State. I’m not saying I’ll go back to finish playing there. I’m open to wherever my career takes me.

“I had a few years with Wayne, obviously, and we had that grand final and Origin series win.

“But at the moment, I’m only focused on the Dragons. I want to take us to the finals.

“We also enjoy our lifestyle down here, and the Dragons have a lot to offer moving forward. I’m pretty happy.”

Hunt turns 32 in March but shows no signs of slowing down. He even won the Dragons’ player of the year award last season.

Amone and Sullivan have been training at five-eighth, with the former the most likely to be given a shot at partnering Hunt in the halves for the start of the year. Sullivan’s No. 6 aspirations stalled last week when he tore his calf.

Hunt says Amone’s running game was devastating, while Sloane, the likely fullback option who will spend plenty of time running off Hunt, had an excellent instinct to show up in the right place at the right time, a skill that could never be taught to players.

“Tyrell just knows what way the ball will bounce every time,” said Hunt, before he added about Amone: “Junior is a good kid, he’s had a great pre-season and is someone who will put defences on the back foot because he’s so lethal on his feet - he’ll open things up for other players around him.”

Meanwhile, Canterbury recruit Josh Addo-Carr has been subjected to racial taunts on social media, with the NRL confirming they had forwarded the awful post to the NSW Police Hate Crimes Unit.

Addo-Carr posted a photo of himself with his family on Australia Day, which he captioned ’Happy survival day my people”. One person responded with: “I will stalk and degrade YOU on all platforms - You Arrogant Black Mfer.”

NRL chief executive Andrew Abdo said: “We will always support our players who are subjected to racism or abuse.

“Fans who racially abuse or threaten our players will be reported to police, and we will work with authorities to do all we can to identify the perpetrators.”

Source: smh.com.au  

Sydney Morning Herald