By Margie McDonald - NRL.com Senior Reporter
Any pressure starting to congregate on the shoulders of St George Illawarra's star 2018 signing Ben Hunt is nothing compared with what he felt in the glare of Suncorp Stadium as the new Brisbane Broncos starting halfback.
In the latter rounds of a disappointing 2013 season, then Broncos coach Anthony Griffin made the bold move to shift his No.7 Peter Wallace to the bench and bring Hunt off the interchange roster. Hunt showed what he could do in the last six rounds of that year, formally taking over as Broncos chief playmaker in 2014.
So if the 27-year-old could handle the heat then, he's more than equipped for whatever the Red V brigade in Wollongong and Kogarah expect of him.
"I feel like I've never really felt the pressure that much," Hunt said from inside the Kangaroos' World Cup camp this week.
"Being a halfback in a Brisbane Broncos team, there is always a lot of pressure on you. It's something I haven't thought too much about, I concentrate on what my coach and my teammates want from me and go from there.
"(Remember) there have been some great ones (Broncos halves) over the years. Being that one-club town, there's always been pressure on the team and always a lot of pressure on anyone in the halves up there. It's something I guess I'm used to."
But while the Broncos have a magnificent record as they enter their 30th year – six premierships, 25 finals series and one Immortal in Wally Lewis – the Dragons can up the ante.
The famous St George club began in 1921, before merging with the Illawarra Steelers in 1999. As St George they won 15 premierships, 11 of those on the trot (1956-66) and produced three Immortals in Reg Gasnier, Johnny Raper and Graeme Langlands.
"I hadn't really looked into it (Dragons history) until I got involved with the club," Hunt said.
"I looked into it a little bit, obviously the premierships they've won way back, they're such a famous club.
"I'm more excited about getting down there and learning about the club from the people who have been there for a long time. Obviously coach Mary (Paul McGregor) knows a lot about the club and players like that, I just want to learn off him and them."
Leaving the goldfish bowl around the Brisbane Broncos will offer a little relief for Hunt as well.
"I think it will. I've talked to a few people that have been to the Broncos and come down to Sydney, they seem to think the pressure is nowhere near as much as up there, no matter what position you play," he said.
"Hopefully I'm prepared for it."
Hunt won't have to wait long to reacquaint himself with his former teammates, as the Dragons host the Broncos in the 2018 Telstra Premiership season opener at Jubilee Oval on March 8.