Ben Hunt (rugby league)
|Born||27 March 1990|
Dingo, Queensland, Australia
|Height||178 cm (5 ft 10 in)|
|Weight||88 kg (13 st 12 lb)|
|Position||Halfback, Hooker, Five-eighth|
As of 26 October 2019
Ben Hunt (born 27 March 1990) is an Australian professional rugby league footballer who plays as a halfback and hooker for the St George Illawarra Dragons in the NRL and Australia at international level.
Hunt signed with the Brisbane Broncos as a youth player. In 2008 Hunt won the inaugural 2008 Toyota Cup (Under-20s) player of the year award and was also named in the team of the year, on the interchange bench.
In round 15 of the 2009 NRL season, Hunt made his NRL debut with the Brisbane Broncos at halfback in a 12-46 loss to the Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks at Remondis Stadium. Hunt went on to play one more match that season, in round 20 against the Gold Coast Titans in a 14-34 loss at Robina Stadium.
In round 8, against the Newcastle Knights, Hunt scored his first NRL career try in the Broncos 22-30 loss at Suncorp Stadium. The 2010 NRL season was seen as a breakthrough season for Hunt, as he played in 20 matches. After some impressive performances, that included scoring two tries, many were calling for Hunt to get a run as a starting hooker. Although Hunt stayed as a bench player, he demonstrated that he could be the Broncos future halfback.
After a shaky start to 2011, Hunt regained his form with an impressive performance against the Canberra Raiders in the Broncos 20-4 win at Canberra Stadium in round 2. After showing solid form off the bench, Hunt broke his finger in a round 9 clash against the Melbourne Storm, Hunt made his return in round 17 against the Parramatta Eels but was then stood down for a week with teammate Andrew McCullough after being charged with public nuisance following a night of drinking in the Brisbane CBD. Hunt later returned in round 19 in the Broncos 30-10 win against the Gold Coast Titans at Suncorp Stadium. Hunt went on to play in 19 matches and score a try for the Broncos in the 2011 NRL season.
After the retirement of Broncos captain Darren Lockyer, Hunt was nominated alongside teammate Corey Norman to fill the vacant five-eighth position. The pair battled out in the trials but Hunt eventually lost out to Norman, leaving Hunt on the bench for round 1. In round 7, against the Canberra Raiders, Hunt and Norman both got the chance to showcase their skills on the centre stage with regular halfback Peter Wallace a late withdrawal through injury. Norman and Hunt didn't disappoint with the pair combining beautifully as the Broncos ran out 30-6 winners at Suncorp Stadium. After the Broncos stumbled at the back end of 2012, losing 7 of 10 games en route to the finals, Hunt found himself in the five-eighth role with Norman dropped to the bench following poor form. Hunt found himself back on the bench as the Broncos were knocked out in the first week of the finals losing 33-16 against the North Queensland Cowboys. Over the course of the season, Hunt played in all 25 matches and scored a try.
Hunt continued his bench role for the start of the 2013 NRL season as the Broncos made a shaky start. He got his first opportunity in his preferred halfback role in the round 9 clash against the Parramatta Eels, as Scott Prince suffered an injury in the opening minutes of the game. On 14 May, Hunt signed a new two-year deal with the Broncos. Towards the back end of the season, Hunt secured the halfback position after Corey Norman was dumped to the Queensland Cup for the rest of the year, scoring a try in his first game. He played in 23 matches and scored 2 tries in 2013.
In February 2014, Hunt was selected in the Broncos runners-up 2014 Auckland Nines squad. In June 2014, Hunt was named in the Queensland Maroons 22-man squad for game 2 as cover for halfback Daly Cherry-Evans, but Cherry-Evans recovered in time for the game, sending Hunt back to the Broncos. Hunt had an excellent season for the Broncos, being one of the top contenders for the Dally M, finishing fourth in the votes and getting a pay rise to $450,000 a season. Hunt finished off the 2014 NRL season with playing in all of the Broncos 25 matches, scoring 13 tries and kicking 21 goals.
On 14 October 2014, Hunt was selected for the Australia 2014 Four Nations 24-man squad. Hunt made his international debut for Australia against England at AAMI Park, coming off the interchange bench and scoring a try just after a couple of minutes of coming onto the field in Australia’s 16-12 win. Hunt played off the interchange bench and scored a try in the Kangaroos 18-22 Four Nations final loss over New Zealand at Westpac Stadium. On 1 October 2014, Hunt re-signed with the Broncos until the end of the 2017 season.
In round 6, against the Sydney Roosters, Hunt scored 2 tries, one of them in golden point extra time, to win the match for the Broncos 22-18. In round 25, against the South Sydney Rabbitohs, Hunt scored his first NRL hat trick of tries in the 47-12 win at the Sydney Football Stadium. On 4 October 2015, in the 2015 NRL Grand Final against the North Queensland Cowboys, Hunt played at halfback in the Broncos historic golden point 16-17 loss. Hunt was heavily talked about after the match after a horror last three minutes, first being penalized for a lifting tackle on Cowboys centre Kane Linnett which resulting in Hunt being placed on report for the tackle. In the Broncos last set with ball in the match, Hunt got his hands on the ball 44 metres out from Brisbane's line, but a loose carry resulted in a one-on-one strip from Kyle Feldt, who shortly after scored the try in the corner to tie up the match at 16-all. Four seconds into extra time, with the ball spiralling in the air, Hunt set himself underneath the ball but knocked on, which give the Cowboys the opportunity win the match when the Cowboys' captain, Johnathan Thurston, kicked the winning field goal. Hunt played in 26 matches, scoring 12 tries and kicking 4 goals.
On 12 January, Hunt was selected in the QAS Emerging Maroons squad. On 4 February, Hunt, along with eight other members of the Queensland Emerging squad, was banned from Queensland State of Origin selection for 12 months after breaking team curfew. In round 10, against the Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles, Hunt played his 150th NRL match in the Broncos 30-6 win at Suncorp Stadium. Hunt managed still to play in all of the Broncos 26 matches and score 7 tries. Hunt was added to the Australian Kangaroos 2016 Four Nations train-on squad but later failed to make the final 24-man squad.
On 23 January, after much speculation on Hunt's future at the Broncos, with the Parramatta Eels and St. George Illawarra Dragons interested in signing him from the 2018 season onward, Hunt agreed to sign a multimillion-dollar 5-year contract with the St George Illawarra Dragons starting in 2018. After starting the season well for the Broncos, in Round 6 against the Sydney Roosters, Hunt sustained a hamstring injury while performing a try-saving tackle on Roosters centre Latrell Mitchell, and was sidelined for 6 weeks. On 8 June, after the Broncos lost back-to-back matches after Hunt’s return to the squad, Hunt was dropped to the Queensland Cup to play for the Ipswich Jets by coach Wayne Bennett. Bennett preferred Kodi Nikorima after he showed strong performances during Hunt’s absence, resulting in 6 straight wins. A month following Hunt's shock dropping, he was selected on the bench for Queensland for Game 3 of the State of Origin Series due to injuries to Darius Boyd and Jonathan Thurston in Game 2. Queensland won the series by defeating New South Wales 22-6. Hunt finished his last year with the Broncos with 21 matches and 7 tries. Hunt was selected in the 24-man Australia Kangaroos 2017 Rugby League World Cup squad. Hunt only played in 1 match in the tournament which was playing off the interchange bench in the Kangaroos 34-0 win over Lebanon at Sydney Football Stadium.
On 28 January, reports came out about Hunt and Cameron Munster being involved in a punch-up in a night out in Darwin during the Kangaroos 2017 World Cup campaign after the 46-0 smashing victory over Samoa. The pair didn’t take part in the match beforehand and Munster was reportedly sent home from the squad. In Round 1 of the 2018 NRL season, Hunt made his club debut for the St. George Illawarra Dragons against his former team the Brisbane Broncos, starting at halfback where he was running riot against his old teammates and scored a try under the posts by intercepting a wayward pass from Broncos prop Matthew Lodge in the Dragons' 34-12 victory at Jubilee Oval.
On the 28th of May, Ben Hunt was named as halfback to represent the Queensland Maroons in the 2018 State of Origin series. He was named in the side after brilliant form for his NRL club the St. George Illawarra Dragons and he was a major factor in the Dragons' sublime start to the season in which they won their first 6 games. Ben Hunt was replaced as halfback by Cherry-Evans during State of Origin III, during the match he was allocated to sit on the bench as Cherry-Evans took his place. Hunt was part of the St George side which qualified for the finals for the first time since 2015 finishing 7th on the table at the end of the regular season. In week one, St George defeated Brisbane 48-18 in a shock victory at Suncorp Stadium with Hunt starring for the saints. The following week against Souths, Hunt scored a try but was heavily criticised after the match as Souths won 13-12. This was in relation to the final minute of the match with the scores locked at 12-12 as instead of kicking the ball downfield, Hunt elected to run the ball on the final tackle which handed possession over to Souths in good field position and ended with Adam Reynolds kicking the winning field goal. After the match, Hunt told the media “It was a pretty big error by me, to be honest". Parramatta legend Peter Sterling labelled it the “dumbest play of the year” the following day on Nine’s Sunday Footy Show.
In Round 5 against Canterbury-Bankstown, Hunt scored 2 tries as St George won the match 40-4 at Kogarah Oval. Hunt was later selected for Queensland in the 2019 State of Origin series and played in all 3 games as Queensland lost the series 2-1. In the wake of St George's Round 18 loss against Penrith which ended in a 40-18 defeat, coach Paul McGregor came under intense criticism after he elected to rest Hunt from playing citing player welfare.
In round 25 against the Gold Coast, Hunt scored 2 tries as St George won the match 24-16 in the final game of the season as the club finished a disappointing 15th on the table.
On 30 September, Hunt was named at hooker in the Australia PM XIII side. On 7 October, Hunt was named in the Australian side for the 2019 Rugby League World Cup 9s and the upcoming Oceania Cup fixtures.
Despite growing up in Queensland, Hunt is a self-proclaimed Cronulla Sharks fan. As a youngster he idolised Mat Rogers which was the reason he supported the Sharks. Hunt has also stated Andrew Johns as the player who most influenced his game. Hunt's brother in law is North Queensland Cowboys hooker Jake Granville, and Hunt's wife, Bridget, is the niece of Former Queensland Coach and Player Michael Hagan.
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