Revealed: How Hunt helped lure Norman to Dragons
ST George Illawarra star Ben Hunt has revealed how he urged club officials to look past Corey Norman's chequered history and lure him to Wollongong.
Almost seven years after battling for Darren Lockyer's famed No.6 jumper in Brisbane, the pair are set to form a lethal halves pairing in the Red V in this NRL season.
Despite Hunt and captain Gareth Widdop leading the Dragons to the top of the table for half of last season, the club opted to chase Norman over the summer.
And Hunt was immediately on board with the plan which sees Widdop play fullback before returning to England at the end of the season.
"I definitely had a few chats with (coach Paul McGregor) and the recruitment staff down there before they decided to sign him," Hunt said.
"I was all for it. They were really excited that I wanted him to come down and had played with him before. We definitely had those discussions."
Both players rose through the ranks together at the Broncos before Hunt made his first grade debut in 2009, and was followed by Norman the next season.
However only once in four years did the pair combine at the scrumbase before Norman secured a lucrative deal with Parramatta.
"I told them I always enjoyed my time playing with him, and I knew he was a great competitor no matter what sort of situation he was in," Hunt said.
Norman arrives at the Dragons with some heavy off-field baggage, including an eight-week suspension and $20,000 fine in 2016 after he pleaded guilty to drug possession at Sydney's Star casino.
The NRL-imposed penalty also related to a police warning for consorting with criminals and filming and distributing video of incidents including apparent drug use and sexual activity.
And the ink had barely dried on his new deal when historic footage emerged on social media of him with another male snorting an unknown substance, though no action was taken by the NRL.
Hunt believes Norman has grown from his mistakes.
"He's obviously made a few mistakes - which a lot of us have - but he's definitely grown up from the bloke I used to know and he just wants to play some good footy," he said.