The Dragons players have made it clear that they believe Ben Hunt is still their best option as captain, despite their recent 52-16 defeat at the hands of rivals Cronulla. Hunt seemed dejected throughout the match, particularly after each of the nine tries scored by the Sharks. However, he had a meeting with Dragons management earlier in the week and agreed to stay with the club until the end of the year. Although a late move to join the premiership contenders Brisbane Broncos is off the table, it appears likely that he will return to his home state of Queensland with two years remaining on his current contract with the Dragons.
There has been some debate about how the Dragons players will respond to receiving on-field orders from a captain who wants to leave the club. Hunt had originally expressed his desire to relinquish the captaincy after Origin II, but his teammates have backed him to stay in the leadership position. Jack De Belin, one of the few genuine captaincy contenders at the club, stated, “He’s told us he’s all in for the rest of the year, and I have no doubts that he will be.” De Belin emphasised that the team’s focus should be on playing football and not getting involved in any political matters or player transfers.
Throughout the week, Hunt was ill and did not participate in training until the captain’s run before the match against Cronulla. Given the limited possession the Dragons had in the match, it was always going to be a challenge for Hunt to make a significant impact as a playmaker. Despite the speculation surrounding his future, Hunt stated that the headlines had not been a topic of discussion in the dressing room. He emphasised that the team’s goal for the remainder of the season, which has been a challenging one for the club, is to come together as a group, fight harder, and secure some victories.
Caretaker coach Ryan Carr refused to use the distractions surrounding Hunt as an excuse for the team’s recent performances. He stated, “We’ve moved on from all that stuff. He’s here with us, he’s part of our team, and will continue to be that for the rest of this year.” Carr emphasised that overcoming their challenges would require a collective effort from the entire team and that the team has to focus on fighting their way out of their current situation.
Currently sitting at the bottom of the ladder, the Dragons face a potential battle for the wooden spoon in round 21 against the Wests Tigers. This match will be crucial for the team as they continue to strive for improved performances and results in the remainder of the season.