The Daily Telegraph reporter Buzz Rothfield has hit back at annoyed NRL fans having snubbed Dragons and Maroons star Ben Hunt from his top 50 best players of 2023. This week, veteran NRL reporter Rothfield compiled a list of the best 50 players of the season.
Few could argue with the players in the top 10 with Penrith and NRL premiership winning halfback Cleary coming in at No.1. Reece Walsh and Shaun Johnson were also in the mix after stellar seasons.
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However, with a lot of players to choose from, Rothfield opted to leave out Maroons No.9 Hunt. The Dragons didn’t enjoy the best season having finished 16th on the ladder, which was exacerbated when reports suggested Hunt wanted to leave the struggling club.
Individually, Hunt was still one of the club’s best players. Hunt was also selected again as the No.9 for the Maroons as the state won the State of Origin series.
And to add further claims to his individual credentials, Mal Meninga selected Hunt in the Kangaroos squad for the upcoming matches against Samoa and New Zealand.
Despite his obvious talent, Rothfield opted to leave him out of the top 50 best players of 2023. This prompted some strong reaction with former Dragons player, and current NRLW coach, Jamie Soward perplexed at the call.
And Rothfield addressed the criticism over leaving the Maroons star out. “The most flak I’ve copped has been around leaving Ben Hunt out and I make no apologies for it,” Rothfield said on Big Sports Breakfast.
“I did it on form this year, and he had a fair season…But I thought he didn’t help the Dragons’ season by announcing when he was in Origin camp that he did not want to be there. How does that go down with his teammates? I thought it was really, really poor form.”
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When radio host Michael Clarke asked whether the decision should have been based purely on form, Rothfield hit back.
“I reckon he’d normally be between 30-40th on the list but I thought what he did was really, really ordinary,” Rothfield said. “If you are a captain of a club and are saying you don’t want to be here. He’s the captain of the most famous club in the game. How would that relate to his teammates, let alone the sponsors?”
Ben Hunt is a current Origin and Australian player that alone should qualify him for top 50. Buzz is as out of touch and irrelevant as the dying paper he writes for
— Adam Bagnall (@adsy2586) October 4, 2023
Despite some concerns over whether Hunt would leave the club, he reassured fans he would stay around with new coach Shane Flanagan coming in to take charge. “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.”
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