Hunt fit enough to stay at No.9 for Saints

Scott Bailey
Ben Hunt has accepted that he will be playing hooker for St George Illawarra in the short term

Ben Hunt claims he's now ready to play 80 minutes each week as an NRL hooker as he approaches the next big test as a starting No.9.

Doing it week on week.

Hunt had the biggest defensive workload of his career last weekend, making 45 tackles in the Dragons' big win over Manly.

He'll again start at dummy-half when the Saints face Canterbury on Saturday, after the past month was spent trying to build up his fitness up to play in the middle.

While Hunt played all three games at No.9 for Queensland in last year's State of Origin series, each of those games were spaced two-and-a-half weeks apart.

His only other run of consecutive games games playing 80 minutes at hooker was four straight for Brisbane at the end of 2017.

"It's definitely a lot different (to Origin). You've got to manage yourself a lot different," Hunt told AAP.

"Playing one Origin game that whole week, you throw everything at it for that one game.

"Whereas club level you are week in, week out going at it.

"Obviously you go your hardest each week, but you've got to manage it a bit.

"The coaches said to me at the start, get used to being there playing some big minutes and get my head around it a bit.

"I think it's working pretty well."

Hunt's ability to play the full game in the middle is key for the Dragons.

His move away from the halves has allowed Adam Clune to excel, after he had his best game in the NRL in the big win over Manly last week.

It also allows Cameron McInnes to start at lock and play big minutes, freeing up Paul McGregor to rotate his younger forwards.

Although Hunt still does harbour ambitions of returning to the halfback role, even if the move to hooker has taken at least some of the spotlight off him.

"I've played No.7 my whole life and I enjoy that," Hunt said.

"But at the moment this is what the team needs.

"Playing No.9 is a simple role.

"You've got to work a lot harder and find the right guy when you need to.

"It probably has taken it (the pressure) off a little bit."