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Bad news for Broncos and Titans as Dragons take firm stance after Hunt's request for release

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26th June, 2023
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The Dragons have knocked back Ben Hunt’s request for a release with the Queensland star told he would need to honour the remainer of his contract at a meeting on Monday morning.

St George Illawarra officials met Hunt and his manager where, according to a club statement, “he shared the concerns and frustrations that led to his recent request for a release from his contract”.

Dragons CEO Ryan Webb was confident Hunt would now stay despite the Broncos and Titans waiting in the wings to sign him for the rest of this season and the next two years.

“The club listened to Ben’s concerns and is committed to working with him throughout the remainder of his playing contract as both Ben and the club share a common goal of winning football games and building a successful football club,” said Webb.

Hunt was quoted in the statement as saying: “I appreciated the open and honest discussion and will continue to work alongside the club and now focus on our game against the Sharks this Thursday night.”

BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA - MAY 11: Ben Hunt of the Dragons waves to fans during the round nine NRL match between the New Zealand Warriors and the St George Illawarra Dragons at Suncorp Stadium on May 11, 2019 in Brisbane, Australia. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

Ben Hunt. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

The Dragons copped a 48-18 flogging at WIN Stadium on Friday night at the hands of the Warriors.

In the wake of the Dragons’ coaching upheaval, with Shane Flanagan replacing Hunt’s close confidant Anthony Griffin from 2024, the veteran halfback wants to move home to Queensland.

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He had been linked with an immediate switch to the second-placed Broncos, who first scouted him as a teenager and turned him into an established NRL player across 187 first-grade games.

Contracted with the Dragons through 2025, Hunt could not see a path to premiership success at the joint venture and was poised to provide the Broncos with an immediate sugar hit at hooker on the run to the finals.

The Dragons had already formally denied his release request earlier in the month.

Hunt’s Origin duties had previously delayed in-person talks so Monday’s meeting in Wollongong was the first time his management was able to to discuss the matter with the club executives.

During the meeting, the Dragons listened to Hunt’s frustrations but reiterated their stance on his release request.

The club believe they will retain Hunt for the remaining two-and-a-half years of the new contract he signed last October.

Retaining Hunt is a significant boost for a Dragons side aiming to start afresh under premiership-winning coach Flanagan.

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They are in the midst of their longest finals drought as a joint venture, having last played in the post-season in 2018, and are languishing in last spot on the ladder through 17 rounds.

They have been dogged by off-field scandals in recent seasons – most notably the 2021 COVID-19 barbecue breach – but Hunt has been a shining light through the lean years.

He is their only current Origin representative and finished third in the Dally M Medal rankings last year.

With Hunt seemingly off the table this year, the Broncos will back Billy Walters and Cory Paix to marshal the middle of the park from dummy-half as they hunt their first premiership since 2006.

with AAP

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