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Pressure on Hunt after Hoffman move

Ben Hunt at Broncos Training

Finally comfortable at halfback, Ben Hunt admitted he was again under pressure to perform following former No.1 Josh Hoffman's selection as Broncos five-eighth.
Pressure on Hunt after Hoffman move
by AAP

By Laine Clark

BRISBANE, March 4 AAP - Finally comfortable at halfback, Ben Hunt admitted he was again under pressure to perform following former No.1 Josh Hoffman's selection as Broncos five-eighth.

New Zealand fullback Hoffman will don the No.6 jersey for the first time since his junior playing days in Mackay after Broncos coach Anthony Griffin rolled the dice on the selection table ahead of Friday night's NRL season opener against the Bulldogs at ANZ Stadium.

Hoffman will play more of a support role at pivot due to perceived deficiencies in his passing game that prompted teammate - now co-captain - Justin Hodges to claim he was "not the right guy" to wear No.1.

Hunt said he had finally found his feet at No.7 after sometimes struggling to step up to NRL level since being named Under 20s player of the year in 2008.

But asked if Hoffman's selection at pivot now put more playmaker pressure on him, Hunt said: "Yeah I guess it does."

And Hunt admitted he had no idea whether Hoffman would be his long-term halves partner.

"I am not too sure, we will just have to wait and see how it goes," he said.

"If Hoffy plays really well I guess it will be a long term thing."

But Hunt added: "I am excited about him playing there."

Hoffman's elevation to five-eighth caps a remarkable reversal of fortunes after reportedly asking for a release as early as January.

The incumbent fullback had become disgruntled after the Broncos' recruitment of Ben Barba who earned the 2011 Dally M Medal wearing No.1 for Canterbury.

However, a recent 90-minute peace talk with the Broncos ensured Hoffman committed to playing out the final two years of his contract, ending the three-month wrangle.

Prized recruit Barba was named at fullback for the season opener against his old club but looked set to share duties with Hoffman.

"There would be a bit of interchange between them, at times they could swap," Hunt said.

"We don't care where we put him (Hoffman) in our team.

"He's a great support player. If he plays that type of game he will go well."

Hunt believed more assistance from co-captain Corey Parker and backrower Sam Thaiday as ball-playing forwards would ease his burden in attack.

The thought of Barba running off prop Parker, who clocked a league-high 68 offloads last season, excited Hunt.

"Getting our forwards to do a bit more ball work will definitely play a part," he said.

"There will be a bit more (onus) on our forwards (in attack)."

In other team news, Parker is in the front row with Josh McGuire, Thaiday is in the second-row and Matt Gillett is lock.

Dragons import Daniel Vidot is on the wing and Dale Copley in the centres for Hodges (Achilles).




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