Brisbane coach Wayne Bennett says Ben Hunt will continue to come off the bench for the Broncos following the 27-year-old’s outstanding performance in his side’s 54-0 victory over the Gold Coast Titans on Saturday night.
Hunt, who was meant to start the game at hooker, was switched to the bench an hour before kick-off, with Bennett wanting to field the strongest defensive line-up possible during the first 20 minutes of the match.
It meant Sam Thaiday played majority of the first quarter of the clash in the hooking position, shoring up Brisbane’s defence as the Titans put together set after set on the Broncos’ line.
So dominant were Gold Coast in the first 20 minutes that they had amassed 63 per cent of possession, but it was not enough to crack Brisbane’s line as Bennett’s tactical masterstroke paid dividends.
Hunt then came on in the 22nd minute and the Broncos scored one minute later, with the versatile utility sparking Brisbane’s attack through his running game and infectious energy.
Hunt stayed on the field until the 69th minute, finishing his 47-minute stint with three tries, two try assists and 87 run metres.
It was the performance Bennett wanted to see from his former halfback and the master coach hoped to see more of the same in the coming weeks.
“Ben got it easy. They had done all the work when he got on, but that’s what he brings and that’s what we want,” Bennett said.
“He’s a threat there. Kodi [Nikorima] is a threat, Darius [Boyd] is a threat at the back and [Anthony] Milford is a threat at five-eighth.
“If we make sure we can defend well and be good with our ball control then we will put teams under pressure.
“[Ben] probably will come off the bench for a little while until we get him more match fit in that position and more used to it. It worked well for us on Saturday.
“I think [it’s a simpler role]. It makes it easy for him. There’s not as much pressure there as there would be if he was playing halfback and trying to organise the team.”
Hunt has made the shift from the halves to hooker due to a season-ending knee injury to Andrew McCullough and his performance on Saturday night showed that the Broncos could perform without their workhorse No.9.
It will take time for Brisbane to perfect their new combinations without McCullough but Bennett remained confident.
“We are still a work in progress. We have a lot tougher teams than what we played on Saturday in front of us. That’ll challenge us,” he said.
“It’s nice to see what they did tonight without Andrew there. It gives us confidence going forward.”
The only worry for the Broncos going forward will be the fate of Joe Ofahengaue after the up-and-coming forward was put on report for a dangerous throw on Titan Max King in the 58th minute.
Bennett did not try and defend the 21-year-old’s actions after the match, saying the tackle was “not the look the game needs”.