Sunday 17 December 2017 / 01:42 AM

OPINION: HUNT DESERVED THE AXE

Wayne Bennett has not enjoyed the easiest of 12 months. Once the most revered coach in rugby league on the back of seven premierships and success at every level of the game, Bennett has seen his reputation take a battering since his departure from Newcastle.

He deserves full praise for dropping Ben Hunt, though, because Hunt deserved to be dumped.

Even if he didn’t, there should be no qualms. Hunt has signed with another club for 2018. Bennett’s job is to protect the interests of the Broncos both this year and next.

Hunt’s numbers simply don’t stack up. Brisbane are 3-5 with Hunt this year and 5-0 without him. The halfback has just four try assists in eight games. He has scored just one try. He is missing 4.5 tackles a game.

Over the last fortnight since returning from injury he had the opportunity to stamp the Broncos as his own. He didn’t. With other options available, Bennett made the right call to dump Hunt.

And if Bennett decided to use Hunt’s defection to the Dragons as a message to others, that is fine, too. Bennett is not obliged to play anyone he doesn’t think best serves the team’s interests. He has done it before with, among others, Justin Hodges. Old school coaches do. Chris Anderson did it with Darren Smith and then plucked him from obscurity to represent Australia a decade later.

Player moves are being announced earlier and earlier. That is fine. But it is essentially being done to give players more leverage in the market. If players are taking the leverage, they need to accept there could be consequences. If a coach isn’t happy and wants to set an example, so he should.

Hunt was dropped. Probably because of his ordinary form. But even if it was because he is off to the Dragons, that is okay too.

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About the author

Nick Tedeschi

You will not find a more passionate rugby league man than Nick, whose Making The Nut column has garnered a huge cult following over the last decade. The Sydney-based raconteur co-authored The Book of NRL Lists with CBS stablemate WILL EVANS in 2014 and has penned several other books; he joined the CBS team with his weekly Six Up The Middle feature in 2016.

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