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NRL News: Hunt denies he is 'held hostage' as he commits to Dragons, Dogs apply for NRLW license, Cult props may swap places

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14th September, 2023
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Ben Hunt has admitted that he has some regrets about signing an extension with the Dragons this time last year, though the star halfback said that he was not being held hostage by the club.

He extended his deal until the end of 2025, but was close to former coach Anthony Griffin and, when he was sacked midway through this season, Hunt asked for a release.

Now, in an interview with the Daily Telegraph, he has opened up on the contract drama that has engulfed him over the latter half of 2023, putting paid to any rumours ahead of Shane Flanagan’s arrival for 2024.

“I’ll be at the Dragons,” he confirmed. “I’ve had a number of meetings with Flanno now. That’s where I’m going to be.

“I wouldn’t say I’m being held hostage. That’s a bit harsh. I have had to accept it in a way. I am going to be there.”

Asked if he regretted signing the extension, Hunt said: “Yes in a way I do but also there is a part of me that doesn’t.

“As a rugby league player you like the security. You have to only look recently with guys like Ryan Papenhuyzen. The game can spit you out really quick. There is a part of me that doesn’t but there is a part that does.”

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Dogs set sights on NRLW license

Canterbury have announced that they will apply for an NRLW license – despite expansion not yet being confirmed by the NRL.

The Bulldogs, who run teams at every level below NRLW, will seek to become the 11th team into the professional competition and would run the team out of their historic home at Belmore Sports Ground.

“The Bulldogs are proud to submit our application in pursuit of an NRLW entry,” said CEO Aaron Warburton.

“Our commitment to the advancement of women’s rugby league is unwavering and our application reflects our dedication to creating a sustainable and successful NRLW team.

There is no confirmation yet that any expansion is on the horizon for the NRLW, though it is likely to be discussed at a high level.

The Dogs could immediately lay claim to some impressive talent: their Harvey Norman Women’s Premiership side, the tier below NRLW, made this year’s Grand Final with a team that included stars Kennedy Cherrington, Gayle Broughton, Tayla Preston and Reuben Cherrington.

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Cult props may swap places

Two fan favourite big men might be about to swap places, with the Manly interested in Tigers stalwart Alex Twal, while shopping Sean Keppie around other clubs, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.

The Tigers recruitment manager, Scott Fulton, spent years at Manly and is close to several players in the group, and should Keppie leave, Wests would be high up the list of potential landing areas.

Luke Brooks has already made the move to the Northern Beaches, while gun juniors Latu and Samuela Fainu have gone the opposite way. Wests were also heavily linked with Josh Schuster before he extended at Manly.

Keppie only extended as recently as this year, but may be forced out as part of a salary cap squeeze at Brookvale.

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