Hunt to bolster depleted Broncos
Ben Hunt's inclusion into the Brisbane Broncos' 17 has taken a turn for the better, with the million-dollar half to bring much-needed experience to his depleted side following the news of fullback Darius Boyd's thumb injury.
With Boyd out for at least four weeks because of a fractured thumb he suffered in the Queensland Maroons' two-point win over the New South Wales Blues on Wednesday night, Hunt (174 NRL games) becomes the second most capped Bronco in Wayne Bennett's backline for their clash with the Canberra Raiders.
2017 recruit Benji Marshall (259 NRL games) is the only back with more experience, and rather than starting both together in the halves, Bennett has opted to have Hunt come off the bench to make an impact and it is a role he is well-accustomed to.
Hunt played 65 of his first 82 NRL matches off the bench before being promoted to starting half late in the 2013 season.
His run at halfback ended in Round 14 of this year when he was dropped on form, but to his credit, the 27-year-old starred for the Ipswich Jets in the Intrust Super Cup in his one game in reserve grade and now he is back in the NRL ready to make a difference.
Teammate Jordan Kahu spoke highly of Hunt, saying the Australian international is enjoying his football and excited to be back in Brisbane's 17.
"As tough as it was for him going back to Queensland Cup, I think it was good for him," Kahu said.
"He's come back well after dealing with it and he's pretty happy about it all. It's a credit to him.
"He's a really upbeat person. He didn't drop his head when he got told [of his omission].
"He was excited to go and play in the Queensland Cup and he's come back really happy. I haven't seen a change in him at all."
Hunt's return coincides with the absence of star five-eighth Anthony Milford who is two weeks into a six-week recovery from a dislocated shoulder.
Milford is working hard to return early and Kahu said his good mate is remaining upbeat despite his time on the sidelines.
"Anthony is still as cheeky as ever. I haven't noticed any changes in him so he's going well," he said.
It will be a tough ask for the Broncos to travel to Canberra and come away with the two points without both Boyd and Milford, but Kahu is confident.
The 26-year-old said his side's focus would be on limiting the influence of the Raiders' forward pack; something Brisbane did well in their 13-12 victory in Round 4.
Kahu kicked the winning field goal in that clash but he is hoping that will not be needed this time around.
"I hope it isn't close and I don’t have to pull the drop goal out again. It will be a tough game," he said.
"They are a great side and they've showed that over the past two years.
"We need to stay tight around the ruck [to limit their metres] and get numbers into each tackle.
"They have big boys that are strong runners so we have to slow the play-the-ball down."