General Hunt in halfback role

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Hunt in halfback role
by Greg Davis
Sunday February 05, 2006
Source: The Sunday Mail

ERGON Energy Broncos coach Wayne Bennett has unveiled his biggest selection shake-up since switching Darren Lockyer to five-eighth by trialling teenage star Karmichael Hunt at halfback.

The Broncos' No. 7 jersey has been a poisoned chalice for all but the great Allan Langer, but Bennett hopes Hunt will be the man to share the play-making load with Lockyer this season.

The 19-year-old will be the halfback – and likely captain – of the Broncos side to meet North Queensland in a trial in Rockhampton on Saturday night.

Hunt spent his first two NRL campaigns at fullback but just like Lockyer, his predecessor as Brisbane custodian, his future at the club appears to be in the halves.

Hunt has been training at halfback throughout the pre-season, with last season's No. 7 Brett Seymour recovering from a full shoulder reconstruction.

Seymour will not play in any of the club's trials and could miss the first month of the 2006 home-and-away season.

Brisbane suffered another late-season flop in 2005 and is desperate to take pressure off Lockyer by finding more attacking options.

Hunt has the kicking and passing skills to make a fist of the position, and his trademark step could also cause havoc if he takes on the defensive line.

At 186cm, he is taller than the traditional halfback but tips the scales at a similar weight to Andrew Johns, who has shown that size and strength are also important attributes at the scrumbase.

Hunt ghosted into first or second receiver to assume some of the creative duties late last year and said he had no problems with shouldering even more responsibility this season.

"I played in the halves a fair bit at junior level and I've been in there at first receiver all pre-season so I'm feeling pretty comfortable in the role," Hunt told The Sunday Mail.

"I'm looking forward to getting in there and playing a game at halfback to see how I go.

"It feels pretty natural to be in amongst the action putting on the plays and directing the blokes around the paddock.

"That's what I did in the juniors and it's all been coming back to me.

"We'll see how it goes during the trials and have a bit of fun with it."

Hunt said Brisbane assistant coach and former St George, Canberra and Wests halfback Ivan Henjak had been an invaluable resource during the pre-season.

Words of wisdom from Langer, – now a part-time member of Brisbane's coaching staff, have also been taken on board.

Henjak has been in Hunt's ear during attacking drills in the pre-season, with the teenager appearing to relish his role as the chief playmaker.

"Ivan has been great and he really knows what he is talking about so I have been taking it all in and trying to put it all into practice," Hunt said.

"Alf came down to training last year and passed on a whole heap of hints and tips and you know they work because he was such a great player."

Hunt said he did not know what his long-term position at the Broncos might be but was keen to be in the thick of the action.

"I'm enjoying playing fullback at the Broncos but I'd like to play around the halves later on down the track because I like getting involved and getting my hands on the ball as much as possible," he said.

"Five-eighth, halfback or where ever. It doesn't bother me as long as I am in the team."

Hunt is almost certain to be named captain of the Brisbane trial side in a clear indication leadership duties could also await the teenager when Lockyer retires.

The Broncos squad includes new recruits Michael Ennis and Ben Hannant, Rockhampton products Scott Minto and Nick Kenny and NRL regulars Neville Costigan, Sam Thaiday and Leon Bott.

Hunt said it would be an honour to captain the club, even in a trial.

"To lead any Broncos team out on to the paddock would be a great thrill but Wayne has to make that call yet," he said.

"It would be a great challenge if it worked out that way but I'd be very proud to do it."

The Cowboys will also have a strong NRL contingent in their squad with Carl Webb, Brett Firman, Rod Jensen, Brenton Bowen, Jacob Lillyman and Matt Scott.

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