Ben Hunt cleared of wrongdoing after $2.7 million move with wife attracts NRL scrutiny

The Dragons are keen to extend their captain's contract amid uncertainty over his future.

The St George Illawarra Dragons have refuted any suggestion of wrongdoing after Ben Hunt and his wife purchased a $2.7 million property from a major sponsor of the NRL club. Hunt and wife Bridget recently bought the property in the Byron Bay Hinterland from Norm Black - the co-owner of Dragons sponsor TripADeal.

Black listed the property for $2.95 million, and Hunt managed to snag it for $2.7m after falling in love with it when he stayed there with his family over Christmas. Black has since moved to hose down suggestions the property sale was any kind of "financial sweetener" for Hunt as he continues negotiations with the Dragons on a new contract.

Ben Hunt and his wife.
Ben Hunt and wife Bridget recently purchased a property from a Dragons sponsor. Image: Getty

According to the Courier Mail, the NRL has no plans to investigate the sale to see if it should be included in the Dragons' salary cap due to the discount Hunt was given. “There’s no cap issues at all - any suggestion of that is nonsense,” Black said.

“It was a place I had as an Airbnb and ‘Hunty’ stayed there over Christmas. He is into breeding horses and post footy he wants to get into that, so I said to him if you want the property, which has plenty of acreage, I will sell it to you.

“Have a look at the deal. Hunty paid $2.7 million for it - it’s not like he got it for nothing. There’s no cheating of the cap. People talking about the salary cap are barking up the wrong tree.”

Ben Hunt and wife Bridget in 2022.
Ben Hunt and wife Bridget at the 2022 Dally M Awards.

The controversy comes amid contract negotiations between Hunt and the Dragons. The Queenslander has been at St George Illawarra since 2018 after starting his career at the Brisbane Broncos.

Last year he requested a release from the Dragons so he could move back to Queensland with his family, but later had a change of heart when new coach Shane Flanagan convinced him to stay. The 34-year-old is contracted to the Dragons until the end of 2025, and the club is looking to extend him even further.

Ben Hunt, pictured here in action for the Dragons.
Ben Hunt in action for the Dragons.

But the halfback revealed this week that he's not ruling out leaving the club, and the Gold Coast Titans have emerged as a huge possibility after negotiations with the Dragons stalled. "I am not closing the door on anything at all,” Hunt told the Courier Mail.

“At the moment, I’m happy at the Dragons and we’ll work through it. There’s no talks at the moment. I am trying to focus on a few other things at the Dragons and get our team going in the right direction. We’re in the Origin period now so that (Dragons contract talks) might be on the back-burner, there’s no rush for anything down there. We’ll sort it out.”


Queensland great Billy Moore reckons Hunt would be perfect for Des Hasler and the Titans. “The Titans are beginning to improve under Des Hasler’s coaching and if you drop Hunt into that team when he plays with the same determination, belief and courage, he would make the Titans a genuine finals team," Moore said.

“The Titans have the strikepower to hurt teams, but they just lack that elite game manager and if you put Ben Hunt into that halfback slot, they are finals bound. I think Ben Hunt can do for the Titans what Adam Reynolds has done for the Broncos."

Hunt started the season in sparkling form and had the most try assists (16) in the NRL heading into Round 13. His form has dipped in recent weeks and the Dragons slipped to 13th on the ladder with a 5-6 record, but Hunt has done enough to retain his place in Billy Slater's Queensland side.