Hunt's homework on No.1 threats
Broncos halfback Ben Hunt has booked himself a place on the couch on Friday night so that he can plot the best way to limit the influence of the opposition fullback in next Friday's preliminary final.
While Anthony Milford practised field goal attempts and Corey Parker and Jordan Kahu honed their goal-kicking at the end of a soggy session on Thursday morning, Hunt took the opportunity to rest hamstrings and glutes that have been feeling the tension of 24 games as the side's chief playmaker.
Broncos players have been given the next two days off to refresh mentally and physically prior to next Friday night's Preliminary Final but Hunt said he'll be taking the opportunity to see whether the Roosters or Bulldogs have any weaknesses he can look to exploit.
"I don't watch a lot of football but you get to this end of the season you want to know what teams are doing what and what we're going to be up against. I'll be watching with a close eye," Hunt said.
"As a halfback we need to be picking out what they're doing wrong defensively and if I can hopefully find a couple of weaknesses I'll work towards them.
"Defensively you're always going to be keeping an eye on them and different things they're tossing up.
"I've seen a few different plays from different teams in the finals so far so they might have a couple of tricks up their sleeve."
In Roger Tuivasa-Sheck and Brett Morris the Roosters and Bulldogs respectively boast two of the most dangerous open-field runners in the game and through their speed and power often provide their teams with the perfect platform for their attacking set.
The threat they pose places even greater pressure on the kicking game of their opposition, an area Hunt believes has been the area that has improved most significantly in his game in 2015.
In the aftermath of Brisbane's 16-12 win over the Cowboys last weekend coach Wayne Bennett said turning Hunt into a half capable of winning a premiership was his biggest project.
Their focus at the start of the season was to ensure any good work undertaken in the first five tackles of a set wasn't spoiled by a poor last-play option and Hunt knows that whoever Brisbane play next week that will be a critical aspect of his own performance.
"My biggest focus was on long kicking," said Hunt, who has been responsible for 69 per cent of the Broncos' kicks in general play this season.
"I felt last year I wasn't doing that really well so if you can find space with your long kicks more often than not you're going to be in good field position.
"[Wayne] felt watching us the previous year that we were putting good sets together but we weren't finishing them well and we were letting teams get off the hook too easy.
"That's one thing he really wanted me to work on, my kicking game and finishing off sets well.
"You give a team seven tackles and more often than not they're putting in an attacking kick on you. If I kick one dead I'm usually getting in a bit of trouble from the players and then Wayne after the game so that's something we need to get right."
Speaking on NRL 360 on Wednesday night, Broncos assistant coach Kevin Walters revealed that the team had addressed their inability to restrict the metres made by opposition teams through the middle of the field.
Last week on the back of 57 per cent possession the Cowboys made close to 400 more metres than the Broncos and 150 more metres on kick returns.
The Roosters are Bulldogs are both good at generating momentum through strong charges from the outside backs early in sets and Hunt said that whoever the Broncos play next week their kick-chase has to be perfect.
"It's something that a lot of teams have been doing against us the last couple of months," Hunt said. "They've been rolling up the field way too easy and in the finals it's all about field position and completion rates and defending well.
"We've got to lock some teams in their own half to get some field position.
"If you can get a winger that pokes his nose through early on a kick return and he gets a quick play the ball you're on the back foot the whole time.
"You've got to win those 1-2-3 tackles, slow them down and then you're set for the remainder.
"If they get a quick play-the-ball at the start of the set, you're just back-peddling too much and that's something that we've been letting happen."