Hunt happy to hand control to Kodi
He may have a quiet word in his ear as he fills the unfamiliar role of waterboy but Broncos half Ben Hunt says he is excited to see how Kodi Nikorima handles the extra playmaking responsibility in his absence at the World Club Series.
A one-game suspension stemming from a lifting tackle in the grand final means that Saturday's trial against the Cowboys in Bundaberg takes on extra significance for Hunt who will be confined to watching the clash with Wigan on February 20 from the sidelines or while wearing a yellow trainer's bib.
The Broncos are set to announce their squad for the Downer NRL Auckland Nines on Tuesday but the names of Hunt, Nikorima and Anthony Milford will all be missing as they instead head north for a rematch with their grand final conquerors.
Having represented the Kiwis at halfback in two Tests in England over the off-season the conditions awaiting Nikorima at Wigan's DW Stadium will not be completely foreign but wearing the No.7 for the Broncos will be a new experience.
The 21-year-old came off the bench in 20 games for the Broncos in 2015 and having spent the majority of the pre-season training with the backs Hunt has no doubt he has what it takes to pilot a team around the park.
"I watched a couple of [New Zealand's] games and I only saw things that I already knew about Kodi," Hunt told NRL.com.
"He's an exciting little player and really quick. He runs the ball really well and any opportunities he gets for us this year he's going to do really well.
"It is [a hard thing to miss] but in saying that I'll be going over and I'm excited about being able to sit back and watch the boys for once.
"It's something that I don't really get to do very often because I like playing but to have that opportunity to watch and have a look at some players, I'm excited about it."
Hunt's suspension places greater emphasis on Saturday's trial and the chance to wipe away some of the grand final nightmares he endured when he last lined up against the Cowboys.
He, Milford and Nikorima will share the playmaking duties in Bundaberg but the 25-year-old doesn't expect to get much of a rest in his one-and-only pre-season hit-out.
"It's definitely important, especially for me, that will be pretty much my only hit-out before Round 1 so it's going to be a pretty big one for me," Hunt said.
"We've got a pretty solid side going up and I think the Cowboys' is pretty good too so it's time to blow the dust off from the pre-season and get back into it.
"I think I'm leaning towards close to a full game. 'Milf' is coming up but he won't be playing too much time. Me, 'Milf' and Kodi Nikorima will be sharing the halves' role there but I think I'll be playing close to a full game."