‘I don’t care who says it, we’re not getting the wooden spoon’: Hunt blasts Dragons critics
Dragons captain Ben Hunt has declared there’s no chance his side will get the wooden spoon while pleading with St George Illawarra’s board not to make a snap decision on coach Anthony Griffin within the first two months of the season.
Written off as finals contenders before their first game of the competition, Hunt has come out swinging over suggestions the Dragons are contenders for the game’s most inglorious honour.
“We’re not getting the wooden spoon,” Hunt said before the Dragons’ first match against the Titans on Sunday night. “I don’t care who says it, we’re not getting it. We’re a lot better than that.
“I think we’re a genuine finals team. We need to be. I generally think we are. You need a lot to go your way in rugby league. If we can stay fit with no suspensions and keep our full team out there every week, we’ll be a good team.”
Bookmakers have installed the Knights and expansion side the Dolphins, who stunned the Roosters in their foundation game, as the only two teams above the Dragons, who had an opening round bye, in wooden spoon markets.
Griffin’s future was thrown further into doubt after his side were mauled by South Sydney in the Charity Shield at Mudgee.
Dragons captain Ben Hunt and coach Anthony Griffin (inset).
But in the same week the club had a welcome bit of good news with Junior Amone absolved of the NRL’s no-fault stand-down policy, Hunt said he wasn’t listening to the pessimistic predictions for the joint venture.
And he implored the club’s board to give Griffin the full season to prove he’s worthy of a contract extension.
“I’d encourage the board to really just back him,” Hunt said. “There’s nothing worse than being in the situation we are now, where everyone is coming for your head and you’ve got the board second guessing the coaching staff. You need to be all in. You’ve got to back your guy.
“At the end of the day, if you get to the end of the season and it hasn’t worked out then make your decision. Don’t get five, six, seven or eight games in and start second guessing what we’re doing because then everything will really turn to s—. I’d encourage them just to back us.”
Hunt will combine with yet another halves partner when Jayden Sullivan steps into the breach for the round two clash against the Gold Coast at Netstrata Jubilee Stadium on Sunday night.
He’s been tried predominantly with Gareth Widdop, Corey Norman and Amone during his stint with the Dragons, producing a career best year when third to Nicho Hynes and James Tedesco in last year’s Dally M count.
“I had a great year, but I wouldn’t say I carried the team on my shoulders,” he said. “We had some guys that played some really good footy last year that didn’t get recognised enough.
“Jack Bird played like six positions for us last year and gave his all every single game, Blake Lawrie was one of our best every single game, Moses Suli until his injury was one of the buys of the season.
“I know 90 per cent of Australia are saying that [we won’t do anything this year], but I don’t feel that. I feel like we’re heading in the right direction and another year for our young guys, a bit more experience for them and a couple of young guys we’ve brought in.”
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