Hunt finds his feet at hooker

Hunt finds his feet at hooker

Brisbane Broncos utility Ben Hunt has completed his transition into an 80-minute hooker, putting in an outstanding performance against the Cowboys in North Queensland on Thursday night. 

Hunt played a full game in the position for the first time since Andrew McCullough's season-ending injury, and he was instrumental in the Broncos' hard-fought 10-point victory. 

The 27-year-old made 40 tackles, with workhorse lock Josh McGuire the only man to make more with 41 of his own. 

It is the biggest defensive effort of Hunt's career – leaving him in good stead heading into the finals. 

‌Hunt also had his moments in attack on Thursday night, providing a great ball from dummy-half to set up Adam Blair for the prop's first try of the season. 

But it was Hunt's defence that impressed coach Wayne Bennett the most; with the master mentor applauding his side's ability to adapt following the loss of fullback and captain Darius Boyd at half-time to a hamstring injury. 

The hiccup meant Benji Marshall played the whole second half at halfback, with Kodi Nikorima shifting to fullback. 

"I'm definitely [proud] of the defensive performance in particular, " Bennett said. 

"I thought Benji Marshall was good and Kodi did well going to the back. 

"It's not easy changing up all those key positions and I thought they did a great job steering the team around the park. 

"We defend well as a group. It's a team effort. I thought we really came prepared to play hard. Our defensive effort in the second half was the key to the win."

 


This defensive effort was set up by the brilliant performance of Anthony Milford during the first 40 minutes of play.  

Milford was everywhere in the early stages of Brisbane's victory, making North Queensland pay for continuously rushing up in defence on the last tackle. 

The 23-year-old's ability take on the line, even with a busted shoulder, was on show, and fans of both teams could only applaud as he used his dazzling footwork to attack. 

When asked if he enjoyed his star five-eighth running the ball like he did, Bennett was conflicted. 

"Yes and no," he said. 

"We were just playing football. Milford was jumping around everywhere when we gave him the ball. We had a bit of luck down the Cowboys' left edge. 

"He's been very good. He's been excellent lately. We need him. His defence has been good.

"I thought his shoulder might have impacted him defensively but he's been excellent."

Milford was supported well by Nikorima, with the halfback having one of his best games in the No.7 jersey. 

Nikorima finished the night with two try assists, and Bennett was happy with the 23-year-old's improvement after he struggled against the Parramatta Eels one week earlier. 

"He was much better tonight. He got the ball in his hands and backed himself. That's all you can ask him to do," Bennett said.