Hunt to skip Test to get married
Ben Hunt may have waited three years to earn a Kangaroos recall but the Dragons-bound halfback will miss Australia's World Cup clash with France on November 3 so that he can marry long-time partner Bridget Hagan.
It was Hagan rather than Hunt himself who believed their big day could face disruption with a World Cup call-up, and when his name was read out last week he had to first get the all clear from coach Mal Meninga that he could be excused from the clash in Canberra.
Given his high-profile move to St George Illawarra after spending more than a decade aligned to the Broncos, Hunt's move to Wollongong will also fall on the shoulders of his bride to be, with the 27-year-old stunned at his selection in the national team.
"Bridget was confident that I was going to get picked towards the back-end of the year," Hunt told NRL.com.
"I was like, 'It's not going to happen', but she kept saying, 'I'm telling you, I bet you it's going to happen and it will be on our wedding day'.
"So when I got picked she said, 'You've got to ask Mal.'
"I had to run that past Mal last week and he was very understanding and was happy for me to go get married and that he would rest me from that game."
Whether the fact that Bridget is the niece of Kangaroos assistant coach Michael Hagan held any sway in getting Meninga's permission is a question only the coach can answer but Hunt admitted that his pre-season plans are now vastly different to what they were a fortnight ago.
"That's pushed all that back as well," Hunt said of his move into Dragons heartland.
"We were going to move down in the next two weeks and get that all sorted and get married and go on a honeymoon so that's all changed now.
"Bridget will try and find a house while the camp's on and get the trucks in and get going.
"Luckily enough we can still get married and then we'll move as soon as the camp's over."
First chosen for the Kangaroos in the 2014 Four Nations after a breakout year for the Broncos at halfback, Hunt is adamant that it was his stint at hooker late in Brisbane's 2017 campaign that paved the way for his international return.
After making his State of Origin debut off the bench for Queensland in Game Three of this year's series, Hunt was shifted to cover the hooking role at the Broncos for the last eight games of the season after good friend Andrew McCullough suffered a season-ending knee injury.
It was a role he played many times when he first came into first grade and he said he had no doubt it contributed to his Kangaroo call-up.
"If I didn't get the opportunity to play hooker I don't know that I'd be here," Hunt said ahead of this weekend's historic visit by the Kangaroos to play against Fiji and Papua New Guinea in Suva.
"It helped me get that utility tag and helps with a bit of versatility in the team.
"To be honest I don't really know what to expect. I've tried to think about it and I kind of feel like I have been picked as a utility role so whether Mal wants to have a hooker/half utility on the bench or an outside back I'm not too sure.
"And if he wants to rest Cameron [Smith] for a game I feel like I'm the only one that will step into that hooker role."
As long as it's not against the French.