BEN Hunt says the indignity of being dropped by Brisbane coach Wayne Bennett may have been a turning point in his NRL season and career.
Hunt has endured highs and lows like few others this year and aims to finish it a winner as part of Australia's Rugby League World Cup campaign. Being dropped mid-season to the Queensland Cup by Bennett gave him a new perspective on life and the game, he says.
As well as making his State of Origin debut for Queensland in game three, the playmaker signed a big money five-year deal with St George Illawarra and was shifted to hooker for the final four games of the Broncos' season. On Sunday, he also got married to long-term partner Bridget Hagan. As Hunt puts it, it's been a "strange year".
"I've had some of the biggest lows but some of the highest highs as well," he said.
Asked if being dropped was a turning point, he said: "I think it might have been.
"I don't think I was playing my best and getting put back there it made me just go back and enjoy some of my footy and play the way I know I can play." Hunt was granted a weekend leave pass by Kangaroos coach Mal Meninga to get married in Byron Bay.
It meant missing Friday's win over France and he says he initially feared choosing love over footy would cost him a spot in the squad. "When I first talked to Mal, it was one of the most nervous talks I've had," he said.
"But he was excellent. Straight from the start he was happy for me to go and get married."