Rival NRL clubs are reportedly eyeing off St George Illawarra Dragons captain, Ben Hunt, as the club looks to extend Jack De Belin‘s contract and make him a one-club player. While Hunt has a contract at the Dragons until 2025, informed sources have claimed that the Canberra Raiders and Gold Coast Titans have both discussed making offers for the Queensland and Australian Test playmaker. Hunt has also met with Phil Gould from the Canterbury Bulldogs in the past. The Titans could have a leg up due to Hunt’s desire to move his family back to Queensland when he retires. However, no official offers can be made without permission from the Dragons.
Hunt, who signed a two-year, $900,000 deal with the Dragons just days after the 2022 Grand Final, has reportedly been frustrated with the club’s poor performance this season and the sacking of Anthony Griffin. He recently told journalists to “interview me in a week or two and I’ll have more answers for you” regarding his future. Meanwhile, Dragons CEO Ryan Webb has acknowledged Hunt’s disappointment with the vacant coaching position, and said that the coach is the first step in correcting the club’s issues and showing a plan moving forward.
While Hunt’s exit could be a blow to the Dragons, the club is looking to extend de Belin’s contract until 2024, with the option for another two years beyond that. The final sign-off on the deal will rest with the club’s new coach. De Belin’s form this season has been impressive despite the Dragons struggling, and he was even considered for a NSW recall by coach Brad Fittler before Origin I. The 32-year-old has returned to the Dragons after being sidelined for more than two years as he fought sexual assault charges. After two separate court hearings, a jury in a second trial found de Belin not guilty of one sexual assault charge while failing to reach a verdict on five others. The Director of Public Prosecutions withdrew the charges and de Belin says he loves the Dragons and has always considered himself a one-club man.