Paul McGregor believes Wayne Bennett’s decision to drop Ben Hunt to reserve grade is “strange” but has no doubt he is the halfback to lead St George Illawarra next season.
Hunt will join the Dragons on a lengthy deal reportedly worth almost $1 million a season in 2018 but will play Queensland Cup for Ipswich this weekend after he was dropped from Brisbane’s first grade team to play South Sydney.
Kodi Nikorima will play halfback for the Broncos with former Dragons five-eighth Benji Marshall named on the bench.
Hunt, who has only recently returned from a hamstring injury, faces an uphill battle to regain his place in the side with Nikorima, Marshall and Anthony Millford competing for spots in the halves.
Appearing baffled by the news, McGregor was adamant the 26-year-old was still the right man for the red V.
“He’s not in my colours in ‘17 and he's a great acquisition for the club going forward in ‘18. But I find it quite strange,” he said.
“He’s not going to help us this year. Going forward he’s a definite player that we think will take the club in a good direction.
“I watch all games of footy on the weekend whether it be having a barbecue at home with the family or with my son or whether I’m coming up playing against an opposition. And certainly when I’ve seen Ben Hunt play up until his injury he was playing really well. I saw the game he played against the Warriors and I thought he played well.
“And we’ve seen this year with the players that have come to our club with Cameron McInnes and Paul Vaughan who didn’t finish in first grade the previous year playing the best footy of their careers.
“So I’ve got no doubts when Ben comes to our environment he’ll play good footy.”