Dragons captain Ben Hunt shuts down ‘cultural issues’ following horror off-season

A defiant Ben Hunt has shut down concerns over St George Illawarra’s culture and is adamant the club can prove their doubters wrong in 2023.

The 32-year-old has been a rare shining light for the Dragons in recent years, taking out the club’s Player of the Year honours and starring for both Queensland and Australia during their recent success. 

Hunt has led the side through some dark times and from the outside looking in, things are going from bad to worse in this off-season.

Junior Amone and Francis Molo have both found themselves in hot water for serious off-field incidents, while a heated post-game exchange between Mikaele Ravalawa and Zane Musgrove only made matters worse for the club.

MORE: St George Illawarra Dragons 2023 season preview

But speaking to the media ahead of the season, Hunt allayed fears regarding the culture at the Dragons and ensured they were headed in the right direction.

“I really don’t have a problem with the culture here – obviously something happened with a couple of individuals and the club is working with those guys to help them out,” he said.

“On a whole, I really don’t think there is a cultural problem – there’s a great bunch of fellas here and everyone is working really hard every day to be better and everyone wants to win. I don’t have any issues.

“We had a discussion as a playing group about the incident and what happened – we addressed that it’s time to move on now and focus on rugby league.

“I just try and address it to the playing group – just get the players together and have a conversation.

“Guys are a lot more willing to open up when it’s just the players there and you can have a good conversation about…just try and steer the group in the right direction.

“That stuff doesn’t happen here anymore and it’s all about the footy…we need to play some games and if we start winning games and playing good footy, then all that stuff doesn’t matter.”

After a lean few years on the field, the off-field dramas are only going to act as an unneeded distraction for the Red V in what looms as a crucial few months for the side and head coach Anthony Griffin.

Allegations from former player James Graham regarding a potential ‘snitch’ within the playing group isn’t going to help the Dragons get on the same page – but Hunt doesn’t believe there is cause for concern.

“Everything seems to get out these days, it doesn’t matter – you can’t keep it quiet,” he said

“I don’t think there is a mole in the group, I don’t think there is anyone that has intentionally gone out and ratted the club out.


“It definitely doesn’t help – it’s just little distractions that you don’t need. You have a really good pre-season and you think you’re headed in the right direction…they are just little things that set you back a couple of steps.

“It’s not ideal but we’ve got to move on.”

St George Illawarra fans have been desperate for success for over a decade, with just three finals appearances since Wayne Bennett departed in 2012 leaving the diehards feeling frustrated.

The continued off-field incidents and negative press surrounding the club is only heightening the disappointment among a vocal fanbase, but Hunt urged them to stick solid through the tough times.

“I can definitely understand why they are getting a bit restless and a bit annoyed with what’s going on,” he said.

“There have been a couple of things that have just raised their head at the worst time. It’s definitely frustrating and I can understand it from the fans’ perspective.

“The best thing we can do is get into the season and start winning some footy games.”

St George Illawarra have the bye in Round 1, before taking on the Titans in their opening game of the season in Round 2. 

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