Incoming St George Illawarra coach Anthony Griffin wants Ben Hunt to return to the halves, confident the playmaker can again become one of the NRL’s premier halfbacks.
Griffin coached Hunt in under-20s and then in the NRL at Brisbane between 2011 and 2013, largely playing him off the bench before finally moving him to the halves at the end of his stint.
The Queensland State of Origin representative played No.7 from there on before being moved to dummy-half this year at the Dragons.
The switch has allowed rookie Adam Clune to be one of the club’s shining lights of 2020 at halfback alongside Corey Norman, with regular hooker Cameron McInnes playing at lock.
But Griffin indicated on Tuesday night he believed Hunt’s days as a halfback were not over and he saw McInnes as a talented dummy-half.
“Ben Hunt went from within a play of steering a team to a grand final four or five years ago (at Brisbane),” Griffin told NRL360.
“I haven’t scratched him off as being a halfback if that suits the team.
“Corey Norman is an extremely talented classy player. (Matt) Dufty is obviously one of the best attacking fullbacks in the league.
“I think they are well placed but the art of putting them together and forming a combination is the trick in coaching.”
Hunt has stated repeatedly he would rather play No.7 if given the option.
Griffin also coached Norman at the Broncos, splitting his time between five-eighth and fullback.
Meanwhile, the new coach said he expected to have a significant say in the club’s recruitment and week-to-week selection.
Both issues proved crucial in Paul McGregor’s exit, with the former coach not in full control of roster management in his final years.
His inability to pick the side he wanted became the breaking point last month, after a three-man selection panel implemented earlier this year saw him out-voted at times.
The Dragons were still determining how those components would work this week.
“I’m the new head coach and they have put me there for a reason,” Griffin said.
“I will be having a strong say in that otherwise they wouldn’t have brought me into the job.
“If someone appoints you to be head coach a lot of that weight goes in your decision making.
“Whether it be selection during the week, roster management or standards in the place. ”
Griffin also said he wanted current caretaker Dean Young to stay on as his assistant after being overlooked for the job.
He also suggested there would not be significant changes to the football department and was keen to keep current staff on board.