Even a Wayne Bennett spray won’t stop the haters from reminding Ben Hunt of his NRL grand final pain.
And Hunt reckons he is fine with that.
Bennett launched a passionate defence of Hunt after Parramatta fans jeered the Brisbane No.7 every time an Eels kick-off went the playmaker’s way in their NRL season opening win.
They were clearly hoping for a repeat of Hunt’s now infamous knock-on in Brisbane’s heartbreaking golden point 2015 grand final loss to North Queensland.
Bennett reckoned the cynics were “talking cheap” and described criticism of Hunt as “the greatest overkill I’ve ever seen on a player in my life”.
But Hunt did not expect the sledges to end any time soon.
“As a footballer you have to expect to cop those things,” Hunt said of the Eels crowd.
“I don’t really mind. The crowd were chanting a few things but I just brushed it off.
“It doesn’t worry me.”
Hunt admitted he was just relieved to get through his first game since his mistake was endlessly highlighted following the Cowboys’ drought-breaking NRL title.
“It’s always good to get your first game back of the season after that finish last year,” he said.
“It was good to move on and get the game done.”
Hunt may be cut some slack on Friday night when he runs out in front of an adoring home crowd against the Warriors.
But the halfback admits he will still be under the pump thanks to the man he lines up against – Kiwi superstar Shaun Johnson.
“He’s one of the most dangerous in the competition, we will have to be on our toes,” Hunt said.
“He’s the whole package. He is so unpredictable – he’s got everything you want in a player.”
But Hunt reckons he still has some tricks up his sleeve.
Hunt and halves partner Anthony Milford surprised the critics when they inspired Brisbane’s 2015 grand final surge in their first year together.
In an ominous call, Hunt vowed to be even better with livewire pivot Milford this season.
“We want to improve on the things we did last year,” Hunt said.
“I thought we were alright in patches last year.
“But we just want to get more consistent and really nail down our plays.”