St George Illawarra Dragons captain Ben Hunt has reportedly opened contract talks with an NRL club for the 2026 NRL season.

Hunt remains under contract with the Red V until the end of the 2025 season but is keen to keep playing despite being 34 years old.

No stranger to the rumour mill, less than 12 months ago, Hunt was hoping to secure an early release from the club after a series of broken promises.

Linked with the Brisbane Broncos and Gold Coast Titans at the time, the tension between the Dragons and Hunt came after the sacking of Anthony Griffin, the failed recruitment of Viliame Kikau, and the halfback's loss of faith.

Despite this, the 15-time Australian and 17-time Queensland representative could find himself staying at the Dragons and playing under Shane Flanagan - unlike teammate Zac Lomax, who has been released from the final two years of his contract.

According to The Sydney Morning Herald, the Dragons and Hunt have held informal conversations regarding extending his contract beyond the 2025 season.

It is understood that his feelings towards the club have changed over the past six months, but sources revealed that the negotiations are yet to be formal, per the publication.

“Ben wants to be here,” said Flanagan at a press conference earlier this week.

“Ben will see out his contract and maybe go further so don't confuse the issue of Ben and Zac. They are two different issues.”

BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA - JUNE 27: Ben Hunt of the Maroons offloads the ball during game two of the 2021 State of Origin series between the Queensland Maroons and the New South Wales Blues at Suncorp Stadium on June 27, 2021 in Brisbane, Australia. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

A member of the NRL's 300-game club, Hunt joined the Dragons at the beginning of 2018 and has since become one of the club's best players.

However, while he has amassed 129 games and 151 points for the club, he has unfortunately never been able to lead them to a Grand Final or cement a regular spot in the finals series.

The new contract would allow him to achieve this, as the Dragons are securing new talent and are currently rebuilding under Shane Flanagan, a former premiership-winning coach with the Cronulla Sharks.