Family first as Hunt keeps options open
Broncos halfback Ben Hunt says the new-found responsibilities of fatherhood will play a major role in deciding whether his future beyond 2017 lies in Brisbane or elsewhere in the National Rugby League.
Hunt and his partner, Bridget Hagan – niece of Kangaroos assistant coach Michael Hagan – welcomed their son Brady into the world in October with the Broncos' No.7 smitten by the new addition.
Other than a trip home to visit his family in Rockhampton Hunt barely left the house over the off-season as he soaked up precious time with his baby boy and admitted on Monday that his next contract will centre round his family.
With St George Illawarra believed to be stockpiling a war chest to chase an elite half for the 2018 season the Broncos could face a battle to retain a player with now 166 NRL games to his name.
The 26-year-old is expected to make a decision on his future prior to the commencement of the 2017 season and said that family will play a prominent role on where he ends up.
"You've got to look and see where I'm at and I'm getting to that age where I've got to make the best decisions for myself and my family," Hunt said.
"I love the club and they've been really good to me and if this is where I'm going to be for my future then that's it.
"I'm going to take my time and make the right decision for my family.
"There's no timeline yet. There's ongoing negotiations here and there and a bit of small chat but not really a timeline yet.
"I'm not overly thinking about it, it's just something that's getting done behind the scenes. I'm just more concentrating on my pre-season at the moment."
After his breakout season in Brisbane's charge to the 2015 Telstra Premiership Grand Final, Hunt fell short of his own expectations in 2016 despite finishing behind only Johnathan Thurston and Cooper Cronk for try assists.
The addition of Benji Marshall provides extra depth to the playmaking options at the Broncos but Hunt believes it is his son who will have the most positive influence on his performance in 2017.
"It's made me a bit tired but it's been amazing," Hunt said.
"It's something I really enjoy. You don't really mind waking up during the night and stuff like that. It's just got me a bit more excited I guess.
"I think it will make me appreciate [football] a lot more but it's definitely going to have a big impact on my decisions I think going forward.
"I've got a family to look after now and that's my most important role I think."
Josh McGuire has trained and played alongside Hunt at the Broncos since they were both teenagers and is predicting the former Kangaroos representative to get back to the type of form he displayed throughout 2015.
"I'm a big fan of Benny, I love playing with him," said McGuire.
"I've played with him since I was a kid, there's no pressure from inside the club which is why he's happy here. I'm looking forward to a big year from him next year.
"He knows where he's at, it's a decision for him and his partner and his family.
"It's a decision we all have to make when it's up and I know that he's enjoying his footy, he's training hard, he's vocal and I'm pretty sure he's excited for a big year."