Ben Hunt drops contract bombshell on red carpet at Dally M awards

Ben Hunt, pictured here with wife Bridget on the red carpet at the Dally M awards.
Ben Hunt with wife Bridget on the red carpet at the Dally M awards. Image: Getty

Ben Hunt has spoken out about his contract situation at the Dragons on the red carpet at the Dally M awards after it came to light that he'd rejected the club's latest offer.

The Dragons captain is off contract at the end of next year and the club remains desperate to get a new deal sorted before he is free to talk to rivals on November 1.

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Hunt and the Dragons had both signalled their intent to have the deal signed before the skipper leaves for the World Cup, if selected, late next week.

But those plans hit a roadblock on Wednesday after news emerged that Hunt's management had knocked back the latest offer from the club.

The Dragons captain then addressed the situation while walking the red carpet with his wife at the NRL's night of nights on Wednesday.

"We've got a number and we're getting there, but it's going to take a bit of time," he said.

"We're getting close. We are very close. Both parties want to get it sorted out before the World Cup. I'm sure we'll get it done this week."

Hunt and the Dragons have now been in negotiations for several months, with a previous inquiry from Hunt's camp to have a clause linked to coach Anthony Griffin was rejected by the club.

The Dragons find themselves in a tricky position with Hunt their best player by some margin.

Ben Hunt, pictured here with wife Bridget at the Dally M Awards in Sydney.
Ben Hunt with wife Bridget at the Dally M Awards in Sydney. (Photo by Don Arnold/WireImage) (Don Arnold via Getty Images)

However they are also keen to keep their hands on rising star Jayden Sullivan, with the natural half spending time at hooker late in the season due to Hunt's presence.

One option would be Hunt shifting to the No.9 jersey in the long term to keep Sullivan at the club, but the man himself said that had not been part of discussions.

Hunt indicated there had been a small frustration over the protracted nature of the discussions.

"Yes and no," he responded when asked if he was growing frustrated.

"It's just the way contracts go. Sometimes it's the way it is. I understand that they're trying to do the best by the club and I'm trying to do best by myself.

"I'm still sure we can work it out (if not before World Cup).

"But the preference is to get it done before them. Obviously after that it might get a bit harder."

Ben Hunt, pictured here in action for the Dragons against the Wests Tigers.
Ben Hunt in action for the Dragons against the Wests Tigers. (Photo by Matt King/Getty Images) (Matt King via Getty Images)

Ben Hunt urged to take pay cut to stay at Dragons

Speaking on NRL 360 on Wednesday, journalist Brent Read said the Dragons will need to “sharpen their pencil” to retain Hunt.

“There were further talks today and Ben Hunt has rejected their latest offer, that is not saying he is going to November 1, that is not saying it is dead,” Read said.

“It is just saying their latest offer hasn’t been good enough to get the deal across the line, so they need to sharpen their pencil a bit the Dragons.

“Initially the sticking point was they made him an offer, but you have to put in those ratchet clauses they put in deals now right, it wasn’t what they wanted.

“They took the ratchet clauses out and upped the offer, and I am not sure what the sticking point is now.”

Veteran journalist Phil Rothfield said he believes Hunt owes it to the club to take a pay cut from the $1.2 million-per-season deal he signed when he joined the Dragons in 2019.

“St George have been very very good to him and probably paid him more money than he was worthy of until this year," Rothfield said.

with AAP

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