Wantaway Ben Hunt: I'm still the man to captain Dragons

Dean Lewins/AAP PHOTOS

Ben Hunt insists he still wants to captain St George Illawarra next year, despite having made clear his desire to leave the NRL club and return to Queensland.

Hunt met with new Dragons coach Shane Flanagan last week as part of the club's end-of-season reviews and has accepted that for now he will be staying put.

Having first requested a release midway through the season following the axing of coach Anthony Griffin, Hunt has been told he will not be allowed to leave.

The Rockhampton-born halfback has accepted the Dragons' position and vowed to be at the first day of pre-season once his end-of-year Test commitments are finished.

But Hunt reiterated his stance had not changed significantly since the middle of the year.

"I'll be at the Dragons. I've had a few conversations with Flanno so that's where I'll be," Hunt said.

"I've put it all behind me and accepted that I'm going to be there.

"If I really think about it, (my stance) hasn't changed a lot. (The Dragons) is just where I'm going to be next year."

Despite his well-advertised hopes of moving on, Hunt said he still wanted to lead St George Illawarra in 2024 as they attempt to end the longest finals drought in the merged club's history.

"I still want the captaincy," he said.

"I enjoy (it) and feel that I've still got some improvement in that role. I'm the best guy for it.

Hunt has two years left to run on the contract he signed with the Dragons in late 2022.

But the opportunity could potentially arise to exit the club sooner if the Dragons find a suitable replacement, with Jarome Luai, Luke Keary, Adam Doueihi, Tom Dearden and Ezra Mam among the halves off contract next year.

"At this stage, I'm just going with it and just playing it as it is," Hunt said when asked if he had accepted he would be remaining at the club until the end of 2025.

"I'm contracted for two years so that's what it is. I'll go with that."

Regardless of his own future at the club, Hunt believes Flanagan can be the man to lift the Dragons out of the doldrums.

The halfback worked with the new coach when he was an assistant at the club in 2020, and sees some similarities to the departed Griffin in Flanagan's hard edge.

"He'll be a hard-nosed, straight-down-the-line kind of guy that takes no rot," Hunt said. 

"If you're not toeing the line or doing what he asks, he'll get you out and get someone else who will.

"That's the type of guy he is and it could be good for us."