Bronco Hunt becomes his own man
Wally Lewis, Allan Langer, Kevin Walters and Darren Lockyer are just some of the many high-profile names to don the maroon and gold of the Broncos throughout the years.
Each of these Broncos legends had contrasting styles on the football field, but they all had one thing in common – at some point in their Bronco careers they were tasked with the chief playmaking duties at one of Australia's top sporting sides.
Approaching his 100th NRL match on Saturday night when the Broncos travel to Campbelltown to play the Wests Tigers, Ben Hunt is now that man for the Broncos – the chief playmaker, the instigator, the bees' knees, the big Kahuna.
Call him what you will, the 24-year-old clearly understands the intense pressure placed on his shoulders every time he pulls the coveted Broncos' No.7 jersey over his head.
He only needs to look around at training to realise the calibre of Broncos alumni that grace their Red Hill base on a daily occurrence. It's in these moments where he recognises that he is now the ringleader playing in a position that only a select few have been able to master over Brisbane's 26-year history.
It's an honour that makes him stop and think about those legends of the past.
"I've done it a few times," Hunt told NRL.com, reflecting on who has graced the chief playmaking role at Broncos prior to him.
"Especially when you see those old players getting around the club you just think, Wow, how am I going to fill those shoes?
"They were some of the best players in the world and they were playing in my position as well.
"I just try to concentrate on my own game and do the best I can and I just hope that's enough."
After playing the majority of his 99 NRL games from the bench in the shadow of former Brisbane half Peter Wallace, Hunt was thrust into the halfback role at the back-end of last season, starring in the Round 20 victory over the Cowboys while playing alongside 300-game veteran Scott Prince.
It was that seven-game stretch next to Prince that helped propel the 2008 under-20s Player of the Year into the type of form he has demonstrated so far this season.
"It was a massive confidence boost for me. Playing with 'Princey' was quite a boost because he'd been around for quite a long time and he was one of the best in his position," he said.
"To have him playing in the halves with me really helped me fit into that role and he talked to me a lot and stuff like that so it was definitely good."
Hunt had a long apprenticeship while waiting for a crack at his preferred halfback role. Now into his sixth season with the Broncos after debuting against favoured boyhood club the Sharks in Round 15, 2009, the Blackwater Crushers junior has been able to pick up a few tips along the way from some of the greats of the game.
"I don't really model my game on anyone. I just try and pick up little things from different players," he said.
"'Alfie' [Langer] has been in doing a lot of short kicking with me and he had one of the best short-kicking games going around.
"So I just try and take little bits here and there from the best players."
Hunt has shown some sparkling form throughout this season and has the statistics to prove it. He has bagged seven tries – he'd previously only scored six prior to this season – along with seven try assists, nine line breaks and five line-break assists. He is also a handy goal-kicking replacement for Corey Parker, slotting four from five so far in 2014.
For rugby league fans with a certain degree of tactical nous, Hunt has been a must-have selection in NRL Fantasy teams this season. He ranks inside the top 10 for average points scored with 58.7 points per game for NRL Fantasy.
Although Hunt realises that he has produced some impressive numbers this season, he'd rather spend his spare time going to the beach or putting his feet up while playing some Xbox, rather than doing the countless hours of number crunching associated with NRL Fantasy.
"I think there are a couple of boys who do it. I know Corey Parker's big on it and was doing it for The Courier Mail, but I never really looked into it myself," he said.
"I remember a couple of years ago when it first started up I tried to do it, but it was too difficult to track which players were in and which players were out so I gave up on it."
If there's one thing Hunt hasn't given up on, it's his fledging halves partnership with five-eighth Josh Hoffman. While the pair are clearly still a work in progress, Hunt is starting to see some positive signs of progression.
"I think we are [beginning to gel]. It took a bit of work at the start [of the season] and we still have a lot of work to do on it but it's definitely starting to come together," he said.
"I think our control on the last play needs improving. We haven't really been finishing our sets off that well since the start of the year and that's something we've really been working hard on to try and sharpen up on."
Despite a series of eye-catching displays this season, including a man-of-the-match performance against the Roosters in Round 3, Hunt is his own greatest critic – recognising that he still has plenty of improvement left in him –only giving himself a pass mark for the 10 games so far this season.
"I think I've got a pass mark. There are some games where I really didn't think I played well and then there are some games where I think I didn’t play too bad," he said.
"I still want to improve a lot more on what I have been playing and I know I've got a lot more in me.
"So at the moment, just a pass."