Bennett launches fiery defence of Hunt
Brisbane coach Wayne Bennett has blasted those who have been overly critical of halfback Ben Hunt's golden point drop in last year's grand final as cheap shots from those who don't understand that game.
Speaking after his side's effective – if not always pretty – 17-4 win over Parramatta on Thursday night, Bennett was asked to comment on an honest column the halfback penned on the topic in this week's Big League magazine.
Hunt went out and produced a composed performance in the season opener, producing a slick pass for the first try, as well as marking several kick-offs effortlessly to Bronx cheers from the crowd.
"I just think it's been the greatest overkill I'd ever seen on a play in my life," Bennett fired.
"We lost the grand final long before the kick went into the air. He wasn't the reason for all the things that happened in the 80 minutes prior to that."
Bennett said the criticisms of Hunt had come from people who didn't understand the game "mouthing off and talking cheap".
"No one in our club or in that team has ever blamed Benny. He turns up every week and plays his heart out for us. To me it was a myth," Bennett said.
"Team sport's built on more than one moment in the game."
Of the season opener, where Hunt and halves partner Anthony Milford showed enough to prove they will be a threat again in 2016 without really clicking like they are capable of, Bennett praised his side's defence but cautioned against reading too much into a Round 1 result.
"Yeah I was pretty happy with it (the defence). It was a bit shaky there a couple of times but we can fix those things pretty easy. Overall I was pretty pleased with it," he said.
"At the end of the night, it's what won it for us and kept us in the game. We didn't have a great number of points in us tonight but it's about defence, it had to be good."
The heat and humidity hanging around western Sydney in the first weekend after summer ended may have combined with the reduced interchanges, injuries in the backs for both sides and general early-season rustiness to dampen both side's execution as well.
"I think both teams were pretty tired actually. It was really humid and they were trying hard and we were trying hard," Bennett said.
"There was a lot of gas being used, and everybody ran out of legs in the end. We had the lead and they couldn't get back and we couldn't do anything more with the lead."