The Brisbane Broncos only have one trial to see if Ben Barba can be a match-winning five-eighth before the NRL season kicks off.
Rising Broncos playmaker Ben Hunt has admitted Brisbane face a difficult assignment grooming a match-winning halves partnership before the NRL season kicks off.
Prize recruit Ben Barba appears favourite to play in the contentious five-eighth position as Hunt’s partner-in-crime but the pair only have one mere trial outing together at best.
Both will line up in a strong Broncos squad for this weekend’s Auckland Nines but must wait until the following week, against the Warriors in Dunedin, to join forces in a proper 13-a-side hit-out.
It leaves Hunt only one match to get settled with his prospective five-eighth before the opening round clash away to Barba’s former club, the Bulldogs, on March 7.
The 23-year-old Hunt, who grabbed the No.7 jersey late in the Broncos’ forgettable 2013 campaign, said he’d love to work closely with the 2012 Dally M Medallist but also rated youngsters Zac Strasser and Kodi Nikorima highly.
“I’m not too sure if Benny is going to be the halves partner yet, I guess that’s what we’ll work out in the coming weeks,” Hunt said.
“It would be good to have a few more games in the halves with whoever it’s going to be.
“That last trial against New Zealand, we’ll work it out there.
“It’s a bit of a tough ask (for the season start) but I’m sure whoever plays that position will fill in there really well.”
Hunt identified Barba as a dangerman when he makes his club debut with the Broncos at the Nines.
“He’s a good speed machine and he’s going to be good for us over there,” he said. “The more we can get him the ball the better we will be.”
While it disrupts Brisbane’s trialling and some rivals have preferred to keep their best players at home, Hunt has nothing against the timing of the Nines.
The halfback stressed the club was excited about the competition and confident they can be right in the mix for the $500,000 winner’s cheque.
“Everyone here is really excited about it,” he said. “We’re all keen to get over there and try and win it.”
Hunt cited Souths and the Roosters, including their former captain and coach Brad Fittler, now 42, as major title rivals.
“It will be exciting to play against him but I know we’ll be sending a few big boys his way,” he said.