WOLLONGONG, AUSTRALIA - JULY 14: Ben Hunt of the Dragons evades the tackle of Josh Hodgson of the Raiders during the round 17 NRL match between the St George Illawarra Dragons and the Canberra Raiders at WIN Stadium on July 14, 2019 in Wollongong, Australia. (Photo by Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images)

The noise, speculation and rumours around the future of star St George Illawarra Dragons half Ben Hunt are unlikely to be going anywhere anytime soon.

The Queensland State of Origin winner - who can play either halfback or hooker - is off-contract at the end of 2023 and reports suggest the Dragons are having plenty of trouble tying him down.

From the idea that Hunt potentially wants a clause added to his contract regarding the future of coach Anthony Griffin, to reports suggesting the Dragons 'lowballed' Hunt with an offer of around $750,000 per season, the Dragons have just over two months remaining until Hunt gains the right to negotiate with any other club in the competition.

That is a scary thought for Dragons fans when they consider exactly how good he has been this year, and how poor the remainder of the team have played around him.

While the Dragons will be desperate to retain Hunt, it's no sure thing, and with clubs already showing interest, Zero Tackle looks at the top five clubs not named the Dragons where he could end up in 2024.


5. Canterbury Bulldogs

The Bulldogs were linked to Hunt this week, and reports suggest discussions amongst the club board are already quite evolved to bring Hunt to the club.

Canterbury have hit reset already, but are still a few pieces short of being a properly competitive team, as can be easily ascertained by the way they have played this season.

Things have certainly improved under Michael Potter, and could continue to do so under Cameron Ciraldo, but the club need a few more odds and ends to be tied up.

One of those will be improved when Reed Mahoney arrives at the club in 2023, and they will continue to work on the future contract of Matt Burton in the background, with the star half holding a player option for 2024, meaning he can also negotiate from November 1.

A player like Hunt joining the club could be the perfect foil for Burton, while also bringing a sense of experience and composure to a club who are still very rough around the edges.

Not only that, but the Bulldogs have some inconsistent heavy hitters in their ranks, and a player like Hunt could well and truly bring it all together.

Salary cap space is certainly a question, but if the money is there then they must make a play.