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 St George Illawarra Dragons have reportedly authorised a two-year contract extension to Ben Hunt, which would tie him down at the club until at least the end of 2025.

The now 32-year-old would be 35 by the time the deal ends, making it likely his last NRL contract before retirement.

The move to keep Hunt for a further two years could cost the Dragons rising talent Jayden Sullivan though, with the young gun behind Talatau Amone in the pecking order to partner Hunt.

It has been widely reported Sullivan will ask for a release if the club elect to re-sign Hunt.

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News Corp's Brent Read has revealed to Triple M radio that last week's board meeting has rubber stamped an extension to be offered Hunt's way, although, with other clubs circling, there is no guarantee of him accepting it.

“They had the board meeting on Tuesday and Anthony Griffin sent the team home early and had a bit of an early mark,” Read said on Triple M.

“The board meeting wasn’t about Anthony Griffin. It was actually about Ben Hunt and whether the club would ratify the contract offer to Hunt because it is for two more years and it is a really big offer obviously.

“The board actually rubber-stamped that on Tuesday and the club will now formally go to Ben Hunt and table that extension.”

Hunt himself said during the week that he hopes to make a call soon, but also that Anthony Griffin's retention as head coach of the struggling club could be the desired factor to keep him at the joint venture.

If he doesn't re-sign with the Dragons, next season would be Hunt's last in Wollongong, however, that would then mean the club get to keep Jayden Sullivan.

It comes after former Dragon Wendell Sailor blasted the handling of junior talent by the Dragons this week, however, Hunt has urged Sullivan to follow his own example and stick with the Dragons.

Hunt found himself as a bench utility looking for opportunities during the early part of his career, stuck behind Darren Lockyer and Peter Wallace at the Broncos.

Sullivan isn't even able to play that role at the present time with Moses Mbye signed by the club ahead of the 2022 season for the exact purpose of playing number 14, however, Hunt told The Sydney Morning Herald that Sullivan should remain with the Dragons despite rumours swirling he will ask for a release.

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“I’m not saying Jayden’s like me, but you look at my career, I didn’t get to play halfback until I was 24 and playing regular first grade there,” Hunt said.

“Personally, I’d like Jayden to stay at the club. I think he definitely offers a lot. If he can toil away and play a bit of hooker or play some different positions, you never know what can open up for you. You’ve just got to be a sponge and learn as much as you can.

“That early part of my career set me up and has given me opportunities to play State of Origin at hooker. We had some good halves [at Brisbane] in Peter Wallace and Darren Lockyer so, in the long run, I was pretty blessed to have them there to learn off, I think.

“They were the same, they really encouraged me to talk. But it wasn’t until I was probably 23 or 24 and had played a fair few games of footy that I moved into the halves and got pretty vocal.”

The 20-year-old Sullivan has long been rated as one of the best junior talents in the game, having taken the Illawarra Steelers to the SG Ball premiership against a Manly side featuring Josh Schuster and Ben Trbojevic in 2019.

Sullivan, who made his NRL debut in Round 20 of the 2020 season, has played six games of first-grade this year, taking his career tally to 12, and it has been widely reported that the Canterbury Bulldogs are just one club keeping a keen eye on the situation.