NRL: Cronulla have lost their opening game of 2017 with a loss to Brisbane at home.
And while Wayne Bennett’s been the recipient of the unwanted attention in recent weeks, this time it’s his halfback with the target on his head.
Following the Broncos’ 26-18 victorious season opener against Cronulla on Thursday, rugby league great Tommy Raudonikis unloaded with a verbal assault on Ben Hunt.
Ruthless in his assessment of Hunt’s performance against the defending premiers, Raudonikis claims the half has mentally checked out on the Broncos and is already counting his money after signing a lucrative deal to join St George next season.
Holding nothing in his reserves, Raudonikis upped the ante, making the bold prediction Hunt will finish the 2017 season playing Queensland Cup.
NRL: The panel from The Late Show debate whether Wayne Bennett has lost his aura.
“I’ll tell you something — this is my prediction — at the end of the season (Hunt) won’t be Broncos halfback,” Raudonikis said on Channel 9’s The Footy Show.
“He’ll get dropped before that. He’ll have a fall out with Wayne Bennett.
“All he’s doing is thinking about all that big money he’s getting and I don’t think he’s worth that money.”
In January Hunt inked a five-year-deal with an option for a sixth season worth over $1 million a year.
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It’s one of the richest contracts in the NRL’s history.
But the NSW legend, famously known for the cattle dog catch cry, claims the no.7 buckles under pressure.
“He can’t handle pressure,” Raudonikis proclaimed.
“Put pressure on him and all his skills go straight out the window. Straight out the window.
Raudonikis said there were several occasions in Thursday’s match where Hunt spilt the ball which emphasised his point.
According to the Fox Sports Lab, Hunt made just one handling error and two missed tackles.
Not bad considering Hunt set-up a try, busted two tackles and made 283 metres off his 12 kicks.
Still, Raudonikis continued: “Did you see what he did in that game? He dropped a couple of balls.
“I don’t think he had a good game at all.”
But Hunt wasn’t the only one from the Broncos under fire after the match.
On The Late Show with Matty Johns, the topic of whether coach Bennett has lost his aura become a topic of heated conversation.
The game’s most successful coach has been in the firing line over the off-season, accused of losing sections of his dressing room.
NRL: Cronulla have trapped Adam Blair in the in-goal area on the first play of 2017.
Matthew Johns believes Bennett has lost his aura and you only need look to the mess he left behind at his previous clubs to see why.
“I was in Brisbane for the launch and I was absolutely amazing by how the local media and some of the former Broncos players and legends were just hammering Wayne,” Johns said.
“That comes off a lot of criticism in England off the back of the Four Nations campaign and lets be honest too.
“Let’s look at the mess he left behind at the Dragons and the absolute mess he’s left behind at Newcastle.”
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Originally published as Tommy’s savage smackdown of Ben Hunt