Auto Poster Ben Hunt fears Dallin Watene-Zelezniak at fullback

Stuff News Articles

Auto Poster
Apr 23, 2013

Ben Hunt will be ready to slot in the halves of hooker for the Kangaroos on Saturday.

Kangaroos interchange utility Ben Hunt says they are expecting a huge game from new Kiwis captain Dallin Watene-Zelezniak on Saturday.

Hunt, who'll start the game from the bench, says he believes the big call by Kiwis coach Michael Maguire to name Watene-Zelezniak was an astute move.

"He'll be a huge threat," Hunt said.

"I think he was one of the best fullbacks in the competition at the back end of the season and everyone saw what he did for Penrith.

* Tonga overshadows Kiwis
* Experience big plus for Kiwis
* Manu v Latrell: Kiwi up for battle

"He's going to be coming out for a big one, they've named him captain and he's going to lead by example. He's going to be a big game player."

Watene-Zelezniak is playing fullback in place of the injured Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, who is expected to be the Kiwis captain next year.

While the Kiwis won't lose much having Watene-Zelezniak in the No 1 jersey instead of Tuivasa-Sheck, they are a weaker team without both of them on the field.

The Warriors captain is one of a number of players missing this weekend's test, but it would be wrong to call this a makeshift Kiwis team, which is something that could have been labelled at them for the midseason test against England in Denver.

"They've got a few new guys coming in, but they're a quality side as well," Hunt said of the Kiwis.

"They've got a great forward pack, Kodi (Nikorima) and Shaun (Johnson) in the halves, there's a good combination between those two and it's going to be a tough one."

But there are also a number of players missing from the Kangaroos this weekend, through international retirement, injury or suspension.

Because of this Hunt says Kangaroos coach Mal Meninga has put an emphasis on defence in training this week.

"He's really wanted to nail down our defensive side of things, Hunt said.

"Being a new team, things aren't always going to click with the ball in the hand, but as long as your defence is really good, you give yourself a chance to win, so we've been working hard on that.

"We're working on combinations, we've got a new halves pairing and a new hooker in the team, so we've been sorting out those things."

The 28-year-old Hunt made his Kangaroos debut in 2014 and has found himself squeezed out of the starting 13, but with Daly Cherry-Evans and Luke Keary in the halves, plus Damian Cook at hooker.

It's no surprise that Hunt can only make it onto the interchange. He admits he didn't have a great end to the season and is grateful to Meninga for still showing enough faith in him to pick him in the squad.

"I really appreciate that from Mal," the Dragon said.

"He's told me he's got a lot of faith in me and believes I can play good footy.

"It wasn't the best back half to the season and for me to pick me in the side, I'm really grateful."

"I look back on it as a big learning curve for myself," he added on his form over the second half of the season.

"I hadn't been through such a difficult stage in my career and I didn't know how to handle it.

"Now that I've been through it and come out the other side, I've got a grasp on it and if it happens again in the future I feel like I can handle it better."

Continue reading...