Broncos halfback Ben Hunt showed he was finally comfortable not only in the No.7 jersey but also his own skin in their 30-26 loss to the Roosters.
In the past, cynics could have said the closest Ben Hunt could get to Broncos halfback greatness was rubbing shoulders with premiership-winning No.7 Allan Langer at training.
Hunt may not have stepped out of Langer’s shadow but the one-on-one sessions with the ex-Test half and current Broncos assistant are clearly paying off judging by his stellar turn in Brisbane’s heartwrenching 30-26 NRL loss to Sydney Roosters at Suncorp Stadium on Friday night.
Hunt bagged two tries and was a constant threat to the defending premiers as Brisbane jumped to a 26-18 lead with five minutes left, only for the Roosters to stamp their class and seal a last gasp win.
Speculation has been rife that code hopper Karmichael Hunt is poised to return to the Broncos next year but it appears they already have a gamebreaker judging by his namesake.
Not that it was much consolation to a shattered Hunt after Brisbane’s unbeaten season start came to a shuddering halt.
“We are pretty hurt right now, that was probably one of our better efforts this year,” he said.
“I think I played one of my better games. But there were times when I thought I fell out of the game … so there is still a lot to work on.
“(But) I think there is lot we can take out of this.”
Hunt had at times battled to find his feet in the NRL since being named the Under 20s player of the year in 2008.
However, the long hours of extras with Langer have ensured Hunt is finally comfortable not only in the No.7 jersey but also in his own skin.
“Alfie has been really good. He said don’t worry too much about that (media) and just play your own game and keep working hard,” Hunt said.
Broncos coach Anthony Griffin didn’t offer a “I told you so” but appeared chuffed his staunch support was being justified.
“He’s getting better each week,” he said.
“That’s what we want him to do, to get to that point.
“To have a game like that against the premiers, he has always had that potential.”
Hunt played a hand in two other tries to ensure Brisbane looked home in front of 33,381 fans.
But tries to Roger Tuivasa-Sheck and Boyd Cordner in the final three minutes got the visitors home.
“That wasn’t footy that a coach is happy with,” Roosters coach Trent Robinson said.
“I think we won on talent not hard work which is something you don’t want to see.
“That’s not the defence we expect from our team, that is not good enough.”