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Sport 'He's been into me everyday': Ben Hunt credits Anthony Griffin in his making as Dragons captain

05:06  23 february  2021
05:06  23 february  2021 Source:   sportingnews.com

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Dragons make Anthony Griffin NRL coach. 159dAAP. " Anthony is an experienced operator with a proven track record across his previous seven seasons as However, Griffin has experience working with two of the Dragons ' most important attacking weapons in Ben Hunt and Corey Norman, having Meanwhile it remains to be seen if Young will stay on as an assistant, however, he has worked

Ben Hunt (born 27 March 1990) is an Australian professional rugby league footballer who captains and plays as a halfback for the St George Illawarra Dragons in the NRL.

Ben Hunt insists he is geared to absorb the added pressure of being an NRL captain as he prepares to embark on perhaps his most important campaign.

Going into the 2021 season, Hunt's return to halfback and reunion with Anthony Griffin at the Dragons has been one of the most talked-about topics in the game.

Another layer was added to the discussion when he was last week named St. George Illawarra captain due to the season-ending ACL injury and eventual move to Cronulla for Cameron McInnes.

Battling the expectations that come with his big price tag - coupled with the Red V's 12th and 15th respective finishes the last two years - Hunt has become perhaps the most criticised player in the NRL since the move to Wollongong in 2018.

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He grabbed his backpack and started to pack. Ben put in some of his favourite things to take with _ HE _ on the trip to Grandpa’ s . He put in his favourite book, his kite and his teddy bear. He grabbed his backpack and ran into the kitchen where Grandpa _DRINK_ his tea. “Ready, big guy?” asked Grandpa. “Will you have breakfast before we leave?”

St George Illawarra coach Anthony Griffin has all but ruled out making a play for Brandon Smith as the Melbourne hooker eyes a new NRL club in 2022. © Darren England/AAP PHOTOS Brandon Smith has been given permission by Melbourne to talk with rival NRL clubs. It' s understood the email sparked interest from a number of NRL clubs willing to offer Smith a No.9 role, but the Dragons are not one of them. With Cameron McInnes, Ben Hunt and Billy Brittain on the books as hooking options, Griffin said the club is unlikely to make a play for Smith although they have salary cap space to spend.

It's sparked fears from some of rugby league's key minds, such as Matty Johns, that Hunt may crumble under the added scrutiny synonymous with being captain of a side.

But the newly-appointed skipper has dismissed claims he's not up for the challenge.

"I think it's already there (pressure)," Hunt said on Big Sports Breakfast.

"Maybe there is a little bit more on top (by being captain). Personally, I don't really want to change anything about myself.

"I think I've got the role for who I am and what I've done in the past.

"I don't want to come in and change who I am and try and be someone else. I have to put my hand up at different times to help the team out... but I don't think I have to change who I am."

While leadership isn't new to Hunt, given his position and status as a representative player, he admits the desire to be sole captain only surfaced recently.

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"It's not something, until probably the last couple of years, that I thought I ever wanted to do," the 30-year-old admits.

"I've always been in some leadership roles for the last six or seven years at the Dragons and Broncos, and I've really enjoyed that.

"I never saw myself as a captain as such. But the last year to 18 months I've really wanted to give forward more in that leadership role and try and be there for those young guys coming through."

Beyond the brutal demands that come with leading one of the NRL's most iconic brands, Hunt understands he's been handed the reins at a critical stage for the Red V.

Possessing one of the younger rosters in the competition, the Dragons are expected to unearth some of the game's next biggest talents over the course of the next two years under Griffin.

Hunt is determined to ensure he's the spearhead that such young players can look up to.

"I want to be a captain that leads by my actions," he added.

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"I don't want to be the one that's barking orders and demanding different things of players. I'm a captain and halfback - I need to talk to my team - but I don't want to be the one that's talking and not doing the walk.

"I was a young guy coming through and I was pretty lucky, I had Darren Lockyer and guys like that. I want to be that voice or guidance for younger guys coming through and try and help them.

"The club's given me that opportunity now and I need to try and develop that myself."

As far as his reunion with Griffin, whom he was coached by at the Broncos in the early stages of his career, Hunt said the new Dragons coach has been instrumental.

"He's into me every day about being better and working on different parts of my game and trying to improve myself," Hunt said of Griffin.

"It's giving me that confidence. Right from the get-go when he got here he put his 100% confidence and backing me all the way, which gives you that belief in yourself."

Commending Griffin on the way he has helped transformed the side's defence this pre-season, Hunt said anticipation is high amongst the group for the club's prospects in the season ahead.

"You can expect a top-eight finish," Hunt said in a message to fans.

"I'm like everyone, we're not going to come from 15th and win the comp straight off the bat, we've got a lot to do yet.

"I'm not saying we're not going to win the comp, we've still got a lot of work ahead of us, but I think we've got enough down here to be a finals team.

"We've just got to put it all together."

Hunt will run out as captain of the Dragons for the first time in Saturday's Charity Shield match against the Rabbitohs, before their NRL campaign officially gets underway against Cronulla on March 14th.

NRL trials: Who fired and who didn't for each club .
From new recruits, players returning from long-term injury lay-offs, and others in need of a big season – these matches were the stepping stone for a big year ahead for many players. With two weeks until the season kicks off on March 11th with the Rabbitohs and Storm, coaches will now begin finetuning having witnessed their team's final hit-out of the season. Here's what we learned from the trials, plus who impressed and who didn't out of your side over the weekend.

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