Ben Hunt has spoken about the future of the St George Illawarra Dragons after signing a two-year extension to stay at the Red V, revealing that he has no desire to play hooker at NRL level and that the future of coach Anthony Griffin is far from certain.
Speaking with the Daily Telegraph, Hunt admitted the most under-pressure member of the squad was likely his coach.
Though the talented No.7 has played his best football in a Dragons jersey under his former Broncos mentor, he knows that a slow start in 2023 will put Griffin in a vulnerable position.
“If we start the year strongly they'll look at extending (Griffin),” Hunt said.
“If we start poorly, he's probably gone. That's back on us players and staff to start the year well. Everyone is aware of it, it's not secret.”
Hunt also spoke on the benefits of playing hooker versus halfback, admitting that while he seemed to be a dummy-half at representative level, it wasn't something he wanted to do in the NRL.
“I'm trying to prolong my career,” Hunt said.
“I enjoy the challenge of playing No.7, I find it mentally more challenging. I like that aspect of the game.
“No.9 is more physically demanding but mentally I find it more simple. That's why I've always liked to play halfback. I like directing the team around.
Despite his clear preference, Hunt has come to terms with the fact he can't escape the dummy-half role at rep level as he prepares to share the role with Harry Grant at the upcoming World Cup.
“Every time I talk to (Mal Meninga) he's telling me to tape my head and wear shoulder pads. It doesn't seem like I'm going anywhere but the middle.
“I really enjoy it at rep level, you can come in and focus on yourself.”
Though he's finally ended his contract saga and enjoyed a stellar personal season that included a solid Dally M finish and the match-winning try in the Origin decider, Hunt knows that the success of his NRL team is just as important as his own – if not moreso.
“It's a funny one, on one hand I'm very proud and happy with how I played and what I achieved. On the other hand it's tough that we didn't make the finals. You want to win more games,” he said.
“We are going in the right direction. The experience we have in the team and the extra year for those young guys to develop (helps). Guys like Cody Ramsey, Junior Amone and Mat Feagai came on really well at the back-end of the year.”