Hunt set to play hooker for Brisbane

Hunt set to play hooker for Brisbane

The Brisbane Broncos are set to unveil Ben Hunt as the club's new hooker following the news that Andrew McCullough will require season-ending knee surgery. 

McCullough was a victim of friendly fire during Brisbane's 28-14 loss to the Parramatta Eels in Round 21, with the 27-year-old's legs being taken out from under him by teammate Adam Blair. 

It left McCullough with damage to both his anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) and medial collateral ligament (MCL), injuries that will now require seven to eight months of recovery time. 

Hunt, who was training at hooker on Monday, now has the impossible job of replacing McCullough who averaged close to 50 tackles a game before his injury. 

Teammate Korbin Sims put the difficulty of Hunt's task into perspective, saying McCullough's skillset was something that cannot be replicated. 

"It's going to be hard to fill his spot. Everyone knows what he brought to the team. Not only defensively, but also just in general he is a major competitor," Sims said.  

"He wants to win, he wants to grow and he wants the club to really do well.  

"He's been an integral part of the Broncos' line-up for a long time now so it's a big shame to not have him at the back end of the year when we're going to be pushing for bigger and better things."‌

 

‌‌Early in his career Hunt was a regular at dummy half, coming off the bench to give a young McCullough some respite from the rigors of first grade.

It has been a long time since Hunt started at hooker, with his most recent start in the position occurring way back in 2010 in what was just his eighth NRL match.  

But Sims has backed Hunt's footballing brain to help him excel in a position he has started in only twice over his 179-game NRL career. 

"Ben's a good player and he's a smart player. Moving into the hooking role shouldn't be a worry because he knows all the plays," he said.

"I'm expecting him to be pretty crafty around the ball and the more that he can have a hands-on role like Andrew McCullough does will only benefit the team." 

McCullough's importance to Brisbane cannot be overstated, but the players still have belief that this could be the year the 11-year premiership drought at Red Hill ends, even without arguably their most important player. 

Questioned on how the Broncos will do without McCullough in the side, Sims had a clear message for the doubters. 

"They were writing us off at the start of the year but we're still in the top four," he said. 

"They said that [we would struggle] when I first got here and I haven't believed them since day one."

Hunt's move to hooker means Kodi Nikorima will again start at halfback, a position he has started at seven times this season for seven wins.