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Broncos in the Hunt for NRL title

Ben Hunt has emerged as a playmaker capable of returning Brisbane to their heyday as the NRL’s premier side, according to his Broncos and Australian teammate Sam Thaiday.

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After spending five years as a first grade utility at Red Hill, Hunt’s future was uncertain at the start of this year as he was thrust into the high pressure halfback role by now departed coach Anthony Griffin.

The 24-year-old emerged as one of the game’s leading halves in a breakthrough season, that resulted in his Kangaroos debut against England last weekend.

Under returning supercoach Wayne Bennett, the Broncos themselves are something of an unknown ahead of the 2015 NRL season.

But former captain Thaiday believes Hunt can lead the once-great Brisbane to their first premiership since 2006.

“This year Benny has really shown that he is a fierce competitor and he is a great player and I only think that Wayne is going to bring an extra 10 per cent out of him,” Thaiday told AAP.

“Wayne will encourage him to do a lot more as a half and I’m sure he is going to be leading us around the park next year at the Broncos and I’m looking forward to it.

“It is an exciting time at the Broncos, there are a lot of changes but hopefully they are all for the positive and hopefully we can get the Broncos back to the Broncos that everyone knows and loves and I think Ben will play a big part in that.

“He is capable of doing that I’m looking forward to seeing what he can do.

“He is just getting better and better, when he came on against England I can honestly say the game changed and Benny is only continuing to develop as a player and that is a great thing for the Broncos.”

Brisbane quickly turned into an NRL powerhouse after their foundation year in 1988, winning premierships in 1992, 1993, 1997 (Super League), 1998, 2000 and 2006.

But in the last eight seasons they have drifted somewhat. That could all change in 2015 with ex-Canberra utility Anthony Milford joining Hunt in the Brisbane halves next year to form one of the most potent playmaking duos in the competition.

Hunt said he was still coming to terms with his stunning rise in 2014, ahead of Australia’s Four Nations clash with Samoa in Wollongong on Sunday and a probable finals appearance the week after before turning his attention back to the Broncos.

“I’m still trying to take it all in,” Hunt said.

“I can’t believe I have had the chance to play for Australia. At the start of the year I just wanted to play regular first grade for the Broncos.

“To be where I am is a great feeling.”

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