Ben Hunt became the whipping boy as the Dragons slid down the NRL ladder in 2018.
But not many critics knew of the personal tragedy he suffered early in the season.
Hunt’s wife Bridget recently took to social media to reveal she’d suffered a miscarriage soon after the Dragons’ victory over the Broncos in Round 1.
“2018 has been filled with a multitude of challenges for our family,” Bridget posted on Instagram earlier this month.
“In feb we were excited to be announcing that our family was growing by 2 feet, however unfortunately miscarried at 12 weeks.
“It’s always hard in those situations to think, what could I have done differently? What did I do wrong, what it was that I did to impact the result?
“Sometimes, things are just meant to be — and it was hard to focus on the positives when you are experiencing emotions of grief, sadness, loneliness and so many questions that no one had the answers to.”
In the first year of his marquee Dragons deal, Hunt was the scapegoat for the club’s late season fadeout and copped social media heat that got so bad Bridget publicly hit out at the “despicable bullying”.
“Words have meaning! You may not think they affect the person, but they have meaning!” she posted on Instagram.
“It’s funny, that Ben is apparently being blamed for the Dragons’ performances of late, but it’s funny, last time I checked it’s his first year at the Dragons, and this has happened three years in a row. And it’s funny that there’s 17 people in a whole side, yet it’s all his fault!
“Players make errors when they are loosing [sic], and players make errors when they are winning too! Rugby league should not be condoning this culture!”
Hunt again bore the brunt of trolls for his ill-fated decision to run the ball on the final play in the dying moments of the Dragons’ semi-final loss.
But amid that heartbreak came some wonderful news – Bridget was pregnant again.
“We then began trying but month after month, being disappointed over and over I began to question my integrity as a nutritionist altogether,” Bridget posted.
“This is my job to help people through such struggles, yet here I was living it myself. all of this amongst football challenges and personal attacks being launched at Ben weekly, our backs have been against the wall and needed some separation from negativity and from the people who write hurtful things that have no consequences because the person isn’t in front of you.
“To say it’s been challenging would be saying the least, but resilience and character are built under pressure… and positive things always come with patience.”