Ben Hunt: It rocked me more than any loss
His every move has been closely monitored since his grand final fumble six months ago looking for signs of weakness but Broncos half Ben Hunt says the career-ending injury to close friend Jharal Yow Yeh rocked him more than a game of footy ever could.
Overshadowed by his Brisbane halves partner Anthony Milford in the opening month of the season, Hunt's try against the Titans last Friday night was a positive sign of intent for the 26-year-old who was so integral in Brisbane making it all the way to the grand final last season.
From 1,301 touches of the footy last year Hunt made just six handling errors but the one to start golden point extra-time in the grand final has led many commentators to question his confidence at the start of 2016.
Hunt has confronted his demons with an open interview with The Footy Show and an honest column in Big League and told NRL.com that anything he may be going through pales in comparison to what Yow Yeh faced in 2012.
A Test and Origin winger, Yow Yeh's career was brought to a premature end at just 22 years of age by a sickening ankle fracture that still troubles him to this day and Hunt says seeing his good mate suffer was extremely tough.
"It rocked me more than any loss I've experienced," Hunt told NRL.com.
"There's always going to be more football to be played, but in Jharal's case there wasn't.
"He's a great mate and to see him the way he was, it hurt. It got me down a bit, but Jharal being Jharal, he just wanted us to get on with it and keep playing our footy.
"It makes you realise how quick your career can be over. I remember coming through junior footy and they'd always say that you career could be over in a flash.
"You think that they are over-exaggerating but it really does happen. It can all be over really quick and it makes you realise how lucky you are."
Members of the National Youth Competition Team of the Year in 2008, Hunt and Yow Yeh both made their NRL debuts with Brisbane in 2009 and still get to see plenty of each other, Yow Yeh heading up the Beyond the Broncos community program.
Holding a unique record of scoring on debut at club, state and international level, Yow Yeh will be there again on game-day on Thursday night assisting in the pre-game entertainment and his infectious attitude rubs off on everyone at the club according to Hunt.
"A lot of people forget how good Jharal was," Hunt said. "He would have been up there with one of the best wingers to come through the club.
"I remember playing with him in under-20s and he scored some freakish tries that other players wouldn't have scored.
"It definitely hurts to see that happen to a great player and a good mate. It's a massive credit to him to see how happy he is now. Everyone at the club gets along with him and I don't think there would be a person that doesn't like him. That shows how good a bloke he is."
As for any criticism currently being directed Hunt's way, Broncos captain Corey Parker believes it is more a reflection of just how good Anthony Milford has started the season as opposed to any dip in his halfback's performances.
"We all witnessed what Benny Hunt did last year and it was extraordinary in terms of his abilities as a halfback and I don't think he's going that bad to be honest," Parker told Sky Sports Radio's Big Sports Breakfast. "He's just got a guy outside him by the name of Milford who is taking all the headlines off him.
"I thought he was good on the weekend, his running game was a lot better and we've got a lot of improvement to do as a side and he's obviously a part of that."