Dragons captain Ben Hunt has slammed his teammates, with only three players turning up to the club’s end of year awards night.
The 32-year-old took out the top gong on the night, as well as the Members’ Player of the Year award, but only Zac Lomax and Michael Molo joined him in person at Doltone House.
St George Illawarra waited until well after the season finished due to the NRLW season, which saw multiple players away on holidays for last week’s event.
But it was those who were in Sydney or Wollongong and opted not to come that left Hunt disappointed.
“It was a bit disappointing, in a way,” he told Nine News.
“A lot of players came to me when we found out about presentation night and mentioned they’d already booked holidays away.
“I did hear after it that there was a couple of guys that were in Sydney and I think that is pretty disrespectful. You’re part of the club, you’ve worked hard all year playing for them, you should come and celebrate the year.
“I’d like to have a chat to some of them. Obviously I won’t be able to do it for a few weeks now, not until pre-season…[but] it’d just be good to know their reasons for why they didn’t come.”
#EXCLUSIVE: The Dragons who were no-shows at the club’s presentation night are lucky captain Ben Hunt is on tour with the Kangaroos.
— 9News Sydney (@9NewsSyd) October 9, 2022
There have been rumours of unrest within the Red V roster throughout the back-half of 2022, with two of their brightest young stars in Jayden Sullivan and Tyrell Sloan both seeking releases from the club.
Anthony Griffin is under immense pressure to keep his job as head coach, while a number of players will be fighting for their careers during the off-season and into 2023.
But despite the poor optics of 27 players from the top squad skipping the celebrations, league great Matty Johns believes it could be a sign of a united playing group.
“We all know what’s happening here – the players are trying to send a message to the club,” he told SEN Breakfast With Vossy and Brandy.
“It’s a bigger problem in the playing group, and I know Ben Hunt has come out now as the captain and he will have a word to say – but the players are fairly united in whatever they are protesting about.
“Whether that is about the way the club is being run, whether it’s the coach – there is so much going on at that club at the moment. I think this is symbolic of the trouble they are in at the moment, and I don’t know exactly how they get out.
“If the players have got together as a united front, I would say that’s better than just total indifference. If 27 blokes – most of which just haven’t turned up because they can’t really be bothered – that’s worse than them getting together and saying ‘no one is listening to what we’re talking about, we need to make a statement’.
“I think that is more positive than total indifference and I’m not totally sure which one it is, but I get the feeling it was a united front.”
Hunt recently sorted his long-term future, inking a two-year extension with the Dragons, and will now turn his attention to the Rugby League World Cup after being selected in the Australian squad.