A former Origin representative has called out Ben Hunt and urged the NRL to “step in” to thwart players breaking contract by requesting to leave for rival teams mid-season.
After rumours swirled for weeks about Hunt’s future at the Dragons in the wake of the firing of coach Anthony Griffin, Hunt confirmed earlier this week he wished to be released from his contract in order to sign with a Queensland-based club.
Michael Ennis believes that Hunt, who was named Dragons captain against the Warriors on Friday night, “could have handled the situation so much better” and that allowing “marquee” players to leave mid-season for another club is a “stain on the game”.
Watch every game of every round of the 2023 NRL Telstra Premiership Season LIVE on Kayo Sports. New to Kayo? Start your free trial now >
“The fact that he was away in Origin camp (when confirming the news), he’s the captain of the club,” Ennis said on Fox League.
“He wasn’t there to have a face-to-face conversation with the new coach and the club, I think that could have been handled better.
“The fact that players in this modern day can still stick their hand up, midway through a season and say they want out … We have to change that.
“The game has to step in at some point. We can’t keep doing this where they (players) can say they want out and then a week or two later the player ends up being let go.
“There’s kids out there with that famous Dragons jersey this season because of Ben Hunt. He was their hope, and he’s there marquee man.”
Co-panellist Greg Alexander interjected to say, “I just think this is professional sport, Mick” to which Ennis offered up a suggestion for the NRL to consider going forward.
MORE NRL NEWS
‘GOT AROUND IT’: Debate rages as Blues burn own plan with ‘double edged’ bungle
COACHING BOMBSHELL: Hasler to replace Holbrook as Titans swing axe
Seibold confirms Turbo’s season over | 01:52
“Can the game not step in and say, OK no worries, if Ben Hunt wants out and wants to go home, but he’s not playing for another club this year.
“How is it fair if he turns around and goes to a side like the Broncos who are sitting first?”
August 7 is the current cut-off date for player transfers.
Ennis says that there are differing situations to Hunt’s around the league which should allow for players to transfer club mid-season.
“If there’s a player off-contract and their current club isn’t going to re-sign them, or there’s someone in reserve grade who could be playing first grade for another club,” Ennis said.
“But when it’s your marquee halfback and captain of the club, it’s hard to swallow.”
Hunt was named as Dragons captain for Friday night’s clash against the Warriors, with Alexander of the opinion it’ll be the 33-year-old’s last game for the club.
Get all the latest NRL news, highlights and analysis delivered straight to your inbox with Fox Sports Sportmail. Sign up now!!
“I think this is the last game Ben Hunt plays for the Dragons, I really do.
“I don’t see any point in (the Dragons) keeping him for the rest of the season.”
Ennis saw eye-to-eye with Alexander on that point, but said he didn’t agree with the club’s decision to name Hunt as captain for the Red V’s Friday night matchup.
“I don’t know where I sit with this to be honest,” Ennis said.
“I’m not sure he can captain. I’m not sure that he can. He doesn’t want to be there.”