Hunt's 'massive shock' at being dropped
Departing Broncos half Ben Hunt admits he was shocked to be dropped to the Intrust Super Cup but insists there is no bad blood between he and coach Wayne Bennett.
After being called into Maroons camp this week Hunt was a Johnathan Thurston knee injury from being the first player since Allan Langer to be selected for Queensland from the Ipswich Jets and is still coming to terms with his sudden demotion from the NRL squad.
With Benji Marshall and Kodi Nikorima retained in the halves for Saturday evening's clash with the Raiders in Canberra, Hunt could yet spend another week with the Jets and in his column in Big League this week concedes it is not a position he imagined himself in at any stage in 2017.
"It’s fair to say it’s been a couple of strange weeks for me," Hunt writes in the Round 16 issue of Big League.
"Being dropped to reserve grade and having to go back and play for Ipswich was a massive shock.
"I certainly didn’t expect to find myself in reserve grade this year and I didn’t think my form warranted being dropped.
"I was stunned when I found out. I was only two games back from a pretty bad hamstring tear and I knew I didn’t play well the first game against the Warriors, but I thought in the Roosters game I did some good things and I started to make strides back to where I wanted to be.
"I didn’t see it coming."
Given his big money move to St George Illawarra at the end of the season, many drew parallels between Hunt's demotion and that of Justin Hodges in 2001 when it was announced he would be leaving the club to join the Roosters.
The shoulder injury suffered by Anthony Milford in Brisbane's last start win against the Rabbitohs made Hunt's recall seem straightforward but on Tuesday he was named in jersey No.17 and forced to defend his relationship with Bennett.
"Wayne gave me two reasons behind his motives for dropping me," Hunt reveals. "The first was that he felt I was down on confidence after coming back from injury. The second was that he felt I wasn’t running the ball much as I should have been.
"When Wayne first told me, I didn’t really know what to say. I copped it on the chin, said no worries went home and had a think about what had happened.
"The more I thought about it, the more I realised there wasn’t much more I could do besides going back to reserve grade and play the best footy I could. I tried to fit in as well as I could with Ipswich and play good football.
"Everything that has happened over the past two weeks hasn’t affected my relationship with Wayne at all. At the end of the day, he’s the coach, he makes the decisions and I’ve known that for a long time.
"I’ve had decisions I don’t agree with happen before, but I’ve got to keep going with my job."
The Round 16 issue of Big League features a tribute to Johnathan Thurston ahead of his 300th NRL game, how Alex McKinnon is forging a new life with a positive attitude, the rookie class of 2017 and the top eight players over the age of 35.
On sale now at newsagents, supermarkets, at the ground and via www.magsonline.com.au/big-league.