Ben Hunt has conceded there are « regrets » over how he managed a release request from St George Illawarra last year.
In one of the biggest off-field stories of 2023, the veteran halfback tried multiple times to break his lucrative Dragons deal amid a period of turmoil at the club.
The club axed coach Anthony Griffin in May, leaving Hunt without the man he had publicly supported for the past 18 months.
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That triggered a desire in the 33-year-old to pack his bags and head home to Queensland, and he was linked to several northern clubs.
Even the appointment of Shane Flanagan to the coaching chair wasn’t enough to quell Hunt’s festering distrust of club management.
It took Flanagan several conversations to convince the halfback to stay.
« There’s regrets about parts of it, » Hunt told 9News of the saga.
« In a way I’m happy there were some things that came to a head.
« It definitely could have been handled better, that’s for sure.
« It’s been a long couple of years and it all sort of compounded into a couple of little things that ticked it off at the end.
« If I could take the time back I would do it differently. »
Hunt remains contracted to the Dragons for the next two seasons, and looks committed to at least seeing out 2024.
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He will be lining up alongside the coach’s son, Kyle, and there’s pressure on the pair to perform given the dire lack of playmaking depth on the roster.
Kyle Flanagan has been much maligned throughout a rollercoaster career at the Sharks, Roosters, and Bulldogs, and Hunt knows the criticism will come if on-field results aren’t up to scratch.
« I’ve been with Kyle for a month, two months now, and I can’t fault him in any way, » Hunt said.
« Now he’s in the same team as his dad, it’s something that down the track if we have a couple of losses, the media will be straight onto that.
« I really think he’s old and mature enough that he can handle it. »
The Dragons begin their season on March 9 against the Titans.
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