Furious footy WAG: ‘You should be ashamed’
BEN Hunt's wife Bridget has leapt to the NRL star's defence and blasted his critics in the media for "despicable bullying" she suggested could one day cost an athlete their life.
Hunt is in his first year with the Dragons after being poached from the Broncos on a $6 million, five-year deal (with an option for a sixth year), but after a promising start the wheels have fallen off.
St George was at the top of the table for much of the first half of the season, but ever since Origin the side has gone on a downward spiral.
The Dragons have lost five of their past six matches, including a 40-4 drubbing against 15th-placed Parramatta on the weekend.
It's a trend the club has experienced in the past few seasons - starting strong and looking like a genuine premiership contender before running out of gas when the finals approach.
As the halfback and chief playmaker, Hunt has copped much of the blame. He was Queensland's starting No.7 in the first two Origin games but relegated to the bench for Origin III after two uninspiring performances.
Since then his form at NRL level has also waned, resulting in a worrying display against the Eels. He had zero runs, sparking plenty of criticism.
But Bridget Hunt has hit out at those who trash players without any concern for how it affects their mental wellbeing, saying on social media it's completely unfair to dump all the blame for the Dragons' poor run on her husband's shoulders.
"You know what I'm sick to death of?? I've sat in silence for long enough not buying into it, but I've had a gut full (sic)," Bridget wrote on Instagram. "All of you people who work in the media and constantly bash the s*** out of players for their performances should be ashamed of yourself.
"You know what the number 1 killer of men between the age of 15-44 is? It's suicide! And no wonder, the amount of bullying these people cause other people is despicable.
"Words have meaning! You may not think they affect the person, but they have meaning!
"It's funny that Ben is apparently being blamed for the Dragons' performances of late, but it's funny, last time I checked it's his first year at the Dragons, and this has happened three years in a row.
"And it's funny that there's 17 people in a whole side, yet it's all his fault!
"Players make errors when they are loosing (sic), and players make errors when they are winning too! Rugby league should not be condoning this culture!
"You would hate it if someone was talking to your children or parents that way, so why is it okay to do so in the game they play? It's bullying & it's not okay!
"We are just lucky that Ben is resilient and doesn't get affected by this sort of stuff, but the story may go a different way for someone else."
Bridget's outburst came after Hunt was the subject of much attention following the Dragons' most recent loss.
Ex-Maroons five-eighth Ben Ikin said Hunt needed to step up in the absence of his injured halves partner Gareth Widdop after an underwhelming showing since the Origin period.
"Gareth Widdop is out and like the Cowboys, who lost Johnathan Thurston (in 2017), a lot of the responsibility now with the Dragons No.6 on the sideline will fall to Ben Hunt - he needs to be at his best," Ikin said on NRL 360 on Tuesday.
"If you look at his numbers in that loss to the Eels, they were suitably unimpressive.
"I've picked up signs from Ben Hunt over the last month, post-Origin, his football started to get a little frantic and I could see that he gets rattled at times.
"When he gets rattled he tends to withdraw and (in) that game on the weekend I saw him withdraw.
"He needs to rediscover, as the Dragons chief playmaker left in that side, his best form ASAP or else the Red V are no chance."
On Monday former NSW hooker Michael Ennis acknowledged that Hunt wasn't the only culprit but said if you're a halfback getting paid $1 million a year you've got higher standards to meet.
"We can single out Ben Hunt because he's come to the club as the marquee man, as the No.7, and did he have any impact on the game the other night? No he didn't. None at all," Ennis told the Big League Wrap.
"That's why he was brought to the club, to fix this time of year. When you come on a million dollars (a season) … you come there as the marquee man in the No. 7 jersey, you're expected to stand up and deliver."
Penrith great Mark Geyer was another to lay the boot in after the demoralising loss to Parramatta.
"They need more from Ben Hunt," he said on Monday's Triple M Rush Hour with MG. "Ben Hunt simply can't be on a million dollars a year and have no runs for no metres."