Playing halfback in the pressure cooker atmosphere of the NRL is no easy task, but Dragons skipper Ben Hunt reckons fullback is one of the hardest positions to master in the modern game.
With that in mind, the Red V’s on-field general was rapt to see young gun Tyrell Sloan, ball of energy Cody Ramsey and experienced utility Moses Mbye putting in the hard yards over summer to hone their craft.
“Good defence gets you into grand finals and that’s something we really need to work on this year,” Hunt said.
“Those three guys have worked on getting in the right positions defensively, getting on kicks when they are put in and getting our numbers right.
“One or our big focuses has been defence and our attitude to that and the kid (Sloan) has been working really hard on it.”
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At 19 and with a CV that boasts just five NRL games, Sloan carries big expectations into 2022 as the Dragons turn to Generation Next to lead them back to the finals.
Sloan and fellow 19-year-old Talatau Amone, who lines up alongside Hunt in the halves against the Warriors, will be expected to provide the X-factor that has been lacking for the past three seasons.
After scoring a slashing try on debut against the Raiders in round 15 last year, Sloan went on to score in all five of his games and backed that up with a slashing four-pointer for the Indigenous All Stars in his first hit-out of 2022.
Now 31 and heading into his 14th season in the NRL, Hunt senses something special is building at the Dragons with the mix of youth and experience coach Anthony Griffin has assembled.
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“We’ve definitely got a bit of strike in the side, bringing Moses Suli on to that left edge and Jaydn Su’A onto the right,” Hunt said.
“We’re leaving last year behind and it’s really exciting to see what sort of footy we can play.
“Give Junior [Amone] another couple of years and he’s going to be a hell of a player. He has some raw talent there that some guys just don’t have. He’s a good kid and he’s going to do some great things for us.
After a rollercoaster 2021 season which started with four wins in the first five rounds and finished with a club record eight straight defeats, Hunt goes into his second year as skipper with a greater appreciation of the role and a strong resolve to lead a revival.
“I want to be that player that stands for something and others can look up to,” he said.
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“The captaincy put me out of my comfort zone a few more times and made me do things better than I had in the past. You don’t walk past things when you know you should do them.
“I want to go out there in every game and compete. If you take care of the effort areas then talent you have will take care of the rest.
"It’s about turning up for your mate.”