Eric

Moderator

St George Illawarra Dragons coach Anthony Griffin declares reinvigorated Ben Hunt is at the 'peak' of his powers

Anthony Griffin has played a pivotal role in reviving Ben Hunt but believes the ultra-tough Dragons halfback is on the cusp of something even more special ahead of the new season. Hailing from the same hometown in Rockhampton, plus having helped develop him at Brisbane and handed him his NRL debut over a decade ago, Griffin knows Hunt better than most. It's why, in the face of many raised eyebrows, one of the first of many of Griffin's big calls upon being appointed Dragons coach ahead of the 2021 season was to name Hunt club captain.

When many feared the extra responsibility would plague Hunt's confidence even more, Griffin showed the belief in his struggling halfback that no one else would – and it paid off. While the 31-year-old's body failed him, managing just 15 games after breaking his arm and leg through the year, Hunt looked a different player under Griffin to the one whose form was so poor he had been dropped from the starting side 12 months prior under Paul McGregor.

Running the ball, calling the shots, kicking to space and pushing his body to the utter limit, Hunt regained a wave of respect with the way he performed in 2021. Only the powers above know how the Dragons' season would've panned out if they were able to get a full season with their fearless skipper on the park.

Griffin has watched Hunt's career transformation from a "chubby little hooker" who would "waddle around and play 20 minutes in the middle of the game" to being within seconds of becoming a premiership-winning No. 7 for the Broncos in 'that' 2015 grand final, and the fall from grace that came after his $1 million move to St. George Illawarra in 2018. But the experienced mentor always had faith in Hunt as a leader, saying the captaincy was the ace up his sleeve to unlock his main playmaker. "The only thing I would say about Ben, and I've known him a long time, is he's the teammate you want," Griffin said of Hunt. "He's an honest person, he's a great teammate, he's a tough competitor."

2022 will present Hunt's leadership with entirely new challenges. While he'll be eager to get his body through a full season, all eyes will be on how the Dragons skipper helps nurture the club's exciting young crop of junior talent, who are expected to form a key part of Griffin's side. Based on his observations of Hunt behind closed doors over the pre-season, Griffin feels as though his halfback is verging on an exciting phase in his career and is primed for an even bigger year.

"He's got himself in great nick and at this stage of his career as all good playmakers are, they're at the peak of their powers with the knowledge of the game they have. It just comes a lot smoother and a lot slower to them," Griffin declared. "It's a bit like playing a game of chess now, they know where to move the parts and what different shapes look like. Most of the good ballplayers like the Cronks, Thurstons, Maloneys and those types of guys - years 30 to 33 or 34 is where they can really control a game.

"Ben's in that period of his career now and I think our most important thing is just to keep our fingers crossed that he stays fit. He only played 15 games last year which cost us. "But if he stays fit, he's one of the better halfbacks and playmakers in the game, no doubt."
 

GCRV

SGI NSW Cup

St George Illawarra Dragons coach Anthony Griffin declares reinvigorated Ben Hunt is at the 'peak' of his powers

Anthony Griffin has played a pivotal role in reviving Ben Hunt but believes the ultra-tough Dragons halfback is on the cusp of something even more special ahead of the new season. Hailing from the same hometown in Rockhampton, plus having helped develop him at Brisbane and handed him his NRL debut over a decade ago, Griffin knows Hunt better than most. It's why, in the face of many raised eyebrows, one of the first of many of Griffin's big calls upon being appointed Dragons coach ahead of the 2021 season was to name Hunt club captain.

When many feared the extra responsibility would plague Hunt's confidence even more, Griffin showed the belief in his struggling halfback that no one else would – and it paid off. While the 31-year-old's body failed him, managing just 15 games after breaking his arm and leg through the year, Hunt looked a different player under Griffin to the one whose form was so poor he had been dropped from the starting side 12 months prior under Paul McGregor.

Running the ball, calling the shots, kicking to space and pushing his body to the utter limit, Hunt regained a wave of respect with the way he performed in 2021. Only the powers above know how the Dragons' season would've panned out if they were able to get a full season with their fearless skipper on the park.

Griffin has watched Hunt's career transformation from a "chubby little hooker" who would "waddle around and play 20 minutes in the middle of the game" to being within seconds of becoming a premiership-winning No. 7 for the Broncos in 'that' 2015 grand final, and the fall from grace that came after his $1 million move to St. George Illawarra in 2018. But the experienced mentor always had faith in Hunt as a leader, saying the captaincy was the ace up his sleeve to unlock his main playmaker. "The only thing I would say about Ben, and I've known him a long time, is he's the teammate you want," Griffin said of Hunt. "He's an honest person, he's a great teammate, he's a tough competitor."

2022 will present Hunt's leadership with entirely new challenges. While he'll be eager to get his body through a full season, all eyes will be on how the Dragons skipper helps nurture the club's exciting young crop of junior talent, who are expected to form a key part of Griffin's side. Based on his observations of Hunt behind closed doors over the pre-season, Griffin feels as though his halfback is verging on an exciting phase in his career and is primed for an even bigger year.

"He's got himself in great nick and at this stage of his career as all good playmakers are, they're at the peak of their powers with the knowledge of the game they have. It just comes a lot smoother and a lot slower to them," Griffin declared. "It's a bit like playing a game of chess now, they know where to move the parts and what different shapes look like. Most of the good ballplayers like the Cronks, Thurstons, Maloneys and those types of guys - years 30 to 33 or 34 is where they can really control a game.

"Ben's in that period of his career now and I think our most important thing is just to keep our fingers crossed that he stays fit. He only played 15 games last year which cost us. "But if he stays fit, he's one of the better halfbacks and playmakers in the game, no doubt."
I like Hunt. It's up to Sullivan to show he's the long term #7. He'll get a chance this year during Origin providing Hunt stays injury free.
 

Chris M

SGI NSW Cup
I like Hunt. It's up to Sullivan to show he's the long term #7. He'll get a chance this year during Origin providing Hunt stays injury free.
Sullivan is 21 this year. He needs to be in the NRL next year or he will leave.
 

Eric

Moderator

Daly Cherry Evans set to shun Dolphins interest to finish career at Manly

Wayne Bennett will have to look elsewhere for an experienced playmaker after a future 300-game player insisted he was unlikely to ever leave the club he’s played with for the last 10 years.

Daly Cherry-Evans has declared he will finish his career at Manly as the Queensland Origin skipper prepares to shun a family homecoming to Wayne Bennett’s Dolphins and ink a contract extension with the Sea Eagles. Manly are poised to formalise a 12-month upgrade that will see Cherry-Evans extend his NRL career until 2024 and remain the Sea Eagles’ halfback kingpin beyond his 35th birthday. Cherry-Evans played his junior football at Redcliffe, the club his father, Troy, represented in the Brisbane State League in 1987, and the Dolphins’ admission to the NRL raised the prospect of the Maroons maestro returning to Queensland.

I believe this has big implications for St George. Obviously referring to Ben Hunt's future beyond this year. I'm a big fan of Ben Hunt. How unfortunate for everyone that he was playing under Baldy McGregor for all those years. But Sullivan and Amone are the future.
 

Chris M

SGI NSW Cup

Daly Cherry Evans set to shun Dolphins interest to finish career at Manly

Wayne Bennett will have to look elsewhere for an experienced playmaker after a future 300-game player insisted he was unlikely to ever leave the club he’s played with for the last 10 year.

Someone will pick him up if as expected, Sullivan is brought in next year. It's just a question of how much the club has to pay him to play elsewhere for the year.
 

Morgan

SGI NSW Cup

DOLPHINS CIRCLE ST GEORGE ILLAWARRA DRAGONS YOUNG GUN

The Redcliffe Dolphins are circling St George Illawarra young gun Junior Amone as the NRL’s newest club continues to make waves in the player market. Amone is under contract until the end of 2023 but with Red V skipper Ben Hunt owning the no.7 jumper and rookie half Jayden Sullivan also signed until the end of 2025, it’s the old three doesn’t go into two scenario.

The Dragons have also signed Moses Mbye as a utility, so once Sullivan returns from his latest hamstring strain coach Anthony Griffin will have a decision to make. When supercoach Wayne Bennett picks up the phone, players listen. The Dragons have been aware of the Dolphins’ interest since before Christmas.

Amone has looked right at home playing alongside Hunt in the opening two trial games and is clearly an NRL player-in-waiting. St George Illawarra has been smart by signing Sullivan and fellow young gun Tyrell Sloan until the end of 2025. But with Amone off at the end of 2023 the Dolphins’ interest makes sense.

The Dragons also have a new-look recruitment committee following the appointment of ex-Cronulla coach Shane Flanagan as a consultant. The Red V brains trust now comprises Flanagan, Griffin, general manager of football Ben Haran and CEO Ryan Webb. There’s no question one of Flanagan’s first priorities will be working out where young gun Amone is at. The Dolphins landed a major coup last month when the club signed Penrith’s SG Ball halfback Isaiya Katoa on a three-year deal from 2023.

Need to extend him ASAP.
 

GCRV

SGI NSW Cup

DOLPHINS CIRCLE ST GEORGE ILLAWARRA DRAGONS YOUNG GUN

The Redcliffe Dolphins are circling St George Illawarra young gun Junior Amone as the NRL’s newest club continues to make waves in the player market. Amone is under contract until the end of 2023 but with Red V skipper Ben Hunt owning the no.7 jumper and rookie half Jayden Sullivan also signed until the end of 2025, it’s the old three doesn’t go into two scenario.

The Dragons have also signed Moses Mbye as a utility, so once Sullivan returns from his latest hamstring strain coach Anthony Griffin will have a decision to make. When supercoach Wayne Bennett picks up the phone, players listen. The Dragons have been aware of the Dolphins’ interest since before Christmas.

Amone has looked right at home playing alongside Hunt in the opening two trial games and is clearly an NRL player-in-waiting. St George Illawarra has been smart by signing Sullivan and fellow young gun Tyrell Sloan until the end of 2025. But with Amone off at the end of 2023 the Dolphins’ interest makes sense.

The Dragons also have a new-look recruitment committee following the appointment of ex-Cronulla coach Shane Flanagan as a consultant. The Red V brains trust now comprises Flanagan, Griffin, general manager of football Ben Haran and CEO Ryan Webb. There’s no question one of Flanagan’s first priorities will be working out where young gun Amone is at. The Dolphins landed a major coup last month when the club signed Penrith’s SG Ball halfback Isaiya Katoa on a three-year deal from 2023.

Need to extend him ASAP.
That's bad news but hopefully as he is a local junior, he'll stay for less.
 

Eric

Moderator

DOLPHINS CIRCLE ST GEORGE ILLAWARRA DRAGONS YOUNG GUN

The Redcliffe Dolphins are circling St George Illawarra Dragons young gun Junior Amone as the NRL’s newest club continues to make waves in the player market. Amone is under contract until the end of 2023 but with Red V skipper Ben Hunt owning the no.7 jumper and rookie half Jayden Sullivan also signed until the end of 2025, it’s the old three doesn’t go into two scenario.

The Dragons have also signed Moses Mbye as a utility, so once Sullivan returns from his latest hamstring strain coach Anthony Griffin will have a decision to make. When supercoach Wayne Bennett picks up the phone, players listen. The Dragons have been aware of the Dolphins’ interest since before Christmas.

Amone has looked right at home playing alongside Hunt in the opening two trial games and is clearly an NRL player-in-waiting. St George Illawarra has been smart by signing Sullivan and fellow young gun Tyrell Sloan until the end of 2025. But with Amone off at the end of 2023 the Dolphins’ interest makes sense.

The Dragons also have a new-look recruitment committee following the appointment of ex-Cronulla coach Shane Flanagan as a consultant. The Red V brains trust now comprises Flanagan, Griffin, general manager of football Ben Haran and CEO Ryan Webb. There’s no question one of Flanagan’s first priorities will be working out where young gun Amone is at. The Dolphins landed a major coup last month when the club signed Penrith’s SG Ball halfback Isaiya Katoa on a three-year deal from 2023.

Need to extend him ASAP.
Maybe the club is saving money to lock up these young guys forever. I hope so at least.
 

Chris M

SGI NSW Cup

DOLPHINS CIRCLE ST. GEORGE ILLAWARRA DRAGONS YOUNG GUN

The Redcliffe Dolphins are circling St George Illawarra Dragons young gun Junior Amone as the NRL’s newest club continues to make waves in the player market. Amone is under contract until the end of 2023 but with Red V skipper Ben Hunt owning the no.7 jumper and rookie half Jayden Sullivan also signed until the end of 2025, it’s the old three doesn’t go into two scenario.

The Dragons have also signed Moses Mbye as a utility, so once Sullivan returns from his latest hamstring strain coach Anthony Griffin will have a decision to make. When supercoach Wayne Bennett picks up the phone, players listen. The Dragons have been aware of the Dolphins’ interest since before Christmas.

Amone has looked right at home playing alongside Hunt in the opening two trial games and is clearly an NRL player-in-waiting. St George Illawarra has been smart by signing Sullivan and fellow young gun Tyrell Sloan until the end of 2025. But with Amone off at the end of 2023 the Dolphins’ interest makes sense.

The Dragons also have a new-look recruitment committee following the appointment of ex-Cronulla coach Shane Flanagan as a consultant. The Red V brains trust now comprises Flanagan, Griffin, general manager of football Ben Haran and CEO Ryan Webb. There’s no question one of Flanagan’s first priorities will be working out where young gun Amone is at. The Dolphins landed a major coup last month when the club signed Penrith’s SG Ball halfback Isaiya Katoa on a three-year deal from 2023.

Need to extend him ASAP.
Is Bennett going to go with a stopgap solution for 2023? I think thier salary cap situation isn't great given they signed a couple of over 30s on big money. Though that's just a guess.
 

Eric

Moderator

Can’t keep them all: St George Illawarra Dragons young gun high on priority list for rivals​

The Dragons could yet lose one of their brightest young talents.

Talatau Amone, Jayden Sullivan and Tyrell Sloan have been called the future of the St George Illawarra Dragons.Two parts of that are now true, with Sullivan and Sloan both on contract with the Red V for the next four years - until the end of the 2025 season - but the same can't be said of Amone.

The youngster, who is set to fight with Jayden Sullivan for the number six position at the club this season, is reportedly being circled by the Dolphins. While Amone wouldn't be able to join the NRL's newest club for their inaugural season without the blessing of the Dragons, who would need to offer him a release, it's thought he may get one, pending on the future plans of Ben Hunt, who is also off-contract with the club at the end of the 2023 season.

The Dolphins aren't technically allowed to negotiate with Amone until November 1 given his current contract status, however, Fox Sports are reporting that the Dolphins are monitoring the situation closely. It's understood the Dragons are aware of the Dolphins' interest in their young gun, who has played in both trials thus far.

The 19-year-old, who won the 2019 SG Ball Cup alongside Sullivan and Sloan with the Illawarra Steelers, has played 11 games in first-grade and didn't look out of place last year, playing in both the halves and at centre.The versatility of both he and Sullivan, who spent time playing hooker in the closing weeks of the 2021 campaign following an injury to Andrew McCullough, could yet see both players remain at the Dragons.

The Dolphins have signed plenty of forwards during their early recruitment drive - Melbourne Storm trio Kenneath Bromwich, Jesse Bromwich and Felise Kaufusi, Rabbitohs' veteran Mark Nicholls and Eels hard-hitter Ray Stone, but they have lacked in spine positions, with only Penrith young Isaiya Katoa joining the club thus far alongside Jamayne Isaako, who is far more likely to be used on the wing.
 

Chris M

SGI NSW Cup

Can’t keep them all: Dragons young gun high on priority list for rivals

St George Illawarra Dragons could yet lose one of their brightest young talents.

Talatau Amone, Jayden Sullivan and Tyrell Sloan have been called the future of the St George Illawarra Dragons.Two parts of that are now true, with Sullivan and Sloan both on contract with the Red V for the next four years - until the end of the 2025 season - but the same can't be said of Amone.

The youngster, who is set to fight with Jayden Sullivan for the number six position at the club this season, is reportedly being circled by the Dolphins. While Amone wouldn't be able to join the NRL's newest club for their inaugural season without the blessing of the Dragons, who would need to offer him a release, it's thought he may get one, pending on the future plans of Ben Hunt, who is also off-contract with the club at the end of the 2023 season.

The Dolphins aren't technically allowed to negotiate with Amone until November 1 given his current contract status, however, Fox Sports are reporting that the Dolphins are monitoring the situation closely. It's understood the Dragons are aware of the Dolphins' interest in their young gun, who has played in both trials thus far.

The 19-year-old, who won the 2019 SG Ball Cup alongside Sullivan and Sloan with the Illawarra Steelers, has played 11 games in first-grade and didn't look out of place last year, playing in both the halves and at centre.The versatility of both he and Sullivan, who spent time playing hooker in the closing weeks of the 2021 campaign following an injury to Andrew McCullough, could yet see both players remain at the Dragons.

The Dolphins have signed plenty of forwards during their early recruitment drive - Melbourne Storm trio Kenneath Bromwich, Jesse Bromwich and Felise Kaufusi, Rabbitohs' veteran Mark Nicholls and Eels hard-hitter Ray Stone, but they have lacked in spine positions, with only Penrith young Isaiya Katoa joining the club thus far alongside Jamayne Isaako, who is far more likely to be used on the wing.
Hmmmmm The good news is that we have all year to convince him to stay.
 

GCRV

SGI NSW Cup
Newcastle seems like a good fit for Ben Hunt after this year.
 

Morgan

SGI NSW Cup

NRL legends’ final verdict​

ST GEORGE ILLAWARRA DRAGONS

Greg Alexander: “I like what they have done with recruitment, they have added depth, they have experience in the middle.”
“I like their exciting young players, I like Amone and Tyrell Sloan, there is a player in him, he is very exciting but the biggest reason is Ben Hunt, I think Ben Hunt for the most of last year played footy like he was back in 2015, the best he has been in the Red V jumper.”

“I think Ben Hunt can challenge for the Dally M, that’s is how good a season I think is in front of Ben Hunt and if that’s true then the Dragons play finals footy.”
 

Eric

Moderator

NRL legends’ final verdict​

ST GEORGE ILLAWARRA DRAGONS

Greg Alexander: “I like what they have done with recruitment, they have added depth, they have experience in the middle.”
“I like their exciting young players, I like Amone and Tyrell Sloan, there is a player in him, he is very exciting but the biggest reason is Ben Hunt, I think Ben Hunt for the most of last year played footy like he was back in 2015, the best he has been in the Red V jumper.”

“I think Ben Hunt can challenge for the Dally M, that’s is how good a season I think is in front of Ben Hunt and if that’s true then the Dragons play finals footy.”
Good one there Brandy. I remember watching Fox during the midst of some of our darkest hours a few seasons back, Greg Alexander was insisting that Ben Hunt is no longer a halfback and urging Baldy McGregor to pick him at hooker. I remember it clearly for three reasons.
  1. I disagreed.
  2. I hated the fact there were commentators affiliated with other clubs, and I believe Greg Alexander is on the board at Penriff, who were so arrogant and thought so little of our coaching staff that they thought they could pick the team for St George Illawarra.
  3. They were right in regard to #2. They could and did pick the team for us.
And Baldy McGregor is still scratching, or rubbing his head wondering where it all went wrong.......

Greg Alexander is free to wax-lyrical about Ben Hunt now but he should also have the courage to say, "I was so wrong".
 

Eric

Moderator

Every NRL clubs' two top young guns to watch in season 2022​

Dragons: Jayden SullivanJayden Sullivan of St George Illawarra Dragons

Another impressive rookie in 2021, Sullivan played one game as a teenager in 2020 before getting a decent run in the side at the back end of the year, following BBQ-gate.

"He's a great kid – I've loved working with him this year," Jamie Soward said in 2021.

"And what he'll bring is maybe that little bit of out-of-the-box thinking that the Dragons may need with some of their attack."

Great talent but looks like he'll have to cool his heels in the NSW Cup for another year.
 

Chris M

SGI NSW Cup

Every NRL clubs' two top young guns to watch in season 2022​

Dragons: Jayden SullivanView attachment 22

Another impressive rookie in 2021, Sullivan played one game as a teenager in 2020 before getting a decent run in the side at the back end of the year, following BBQ-gate.

"He's a great kid – I've loved working with him this year," Jamie Soward said in 2021.

"And what he'll bring is maybe that little bit of out-of-the-box thinking that the Dragons may need with some of their attack."

Great talent but looks like he'll have to cool his heels in the NSW Cup for another year.
Hunt goes so hard, puts his body on the line, he'll probably get injured at some point. Hopefully not seriously. And if he doesn't, he'll be selected for SOO so Sullivan will definately get a chance at some point.
 

GCRV

SGI NSW Cup

Every NRL clubs' two top young guns to watch in season 2022​

Dragons: Jayden SullivanView attachment 22

Another impressive rookie in 2021, Sullivan played one game as a teenager in 2020 before getting a decent run in the side at the back end of the year, following BBQ-gate.

"He's a great kid – I've loved working with him this year," Jamie Soward said in 2021.

"And what he'll bring is maybe that little bit of out-of-the-box thinking that the Dragons may need with some of their attack."

Great talent but looks like he'll have to cool his heels in the NSW Cup for another year.
It will be interesting to see how Sullivan and Amone combine in the halves in the NRL. It might define the team for the next decade.
 

Morgan

SGI NSW Cup

Every NRL team's spine Ranked​

10. St George Illawarra Dragons – Tyrell Sloan, Junior Amone, Ben Hunt, Andrew McCullough

Sloan and Amone are two super talented youngsters who looked good in limited action. If they fulfil their potential, the Dragons will be up there and will make the finals.

Hunt is very good halfback who – when he is on – is as good as any halfback in the NRL, while McCullough may lack in attack be makes up for it with leadership. He is stout in defence and he gives reliable service from dummy half. He is good without being great.
 

Chris M

SGI NSW Cup

Every NRL team's spine Ranked​

10. St George Illawarra Dragons – Tyrell Sloan, Junior Amone, Ben Hunt, Andrew McCullough

Sloan and Amone are two super talented youngsters who looked good in limited action. If they fulfil their potential, the Dragons will be up there and will make the finals.

Hunt is very good halfback who – when he is on – is as good as any halfback in the NRL, while McCullough may lack in attack be makes up for it with leadership. He is stout in defence and he gives reliable service from dummy half. He is good without being great.
I wonder which were the 9 above St George?
 
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