Dragons playmaker Ben Hunt has been a target on social media this season. Picture: Joel Carrett/AAP
Dragons playmaker Ben Hunt has been a target on social media this season. Picture: Joel Carrett/AAP

Bennett takes a dig at Hunt over social media woes

IN A dig at maligned ex-Brisbane halfback Ben Hunt, Wayne Bennett says any player who reads social media criticism is a fool.

After copping social media flak all year, St George Illawarra No.7 Hunt was already feeling the heat ahead of Sunday's NRL elimination final against the Broncos at Brisbane's Suncorp Stadium.

After defecting to the Dragons this year on a $6 million deal, Hunt has been the scapegoat for the NRL club's late season slide.

The abuse got so bad Hunt's wife, Bridget, recently publicly hit out at the "despicable bullying".

But Hunt was not getting any sympathy from former coach Bennett ahead of their knockout clash.

"If you are football player and you read social media then you really are a bit of a fool," Bennett said on Saturday of Hunt's plight.

"I can't have any sympathy on the social media stuff.

Coach Wayne Bennett shows how it’s done. Picture: Josh Woning/AAP
Coach Wayne Bennett shows how it’s done. Picture: Josh Woning/AAP

"The bottom line is we are targets for the media. That is always how it is going to be.

"He doesn't have to read it, that is my point."

All eyes will be on Hunt as he tries to spark a Dragons side that has not won at Suncorp Stadium since 2009.

"He will be trying hard, he always does that, it is part of his DNA," Bennett said of Hunt.

"When I was coaching (him) he was always doing his best. It may not always work for him but he is trying to do his best."

Brisbane have emerged as dark horses after three straight wins but have been struck a blow, with Kiwi international back-rower Alex Glenn succumbing to a calf strain on Saturday.

It opens the door for teenager David Fifita to continue his rise.

The 18-year-old, who made his NRL debut in late June, will slot into the starting back row for Glenn, while Kotoni Staggs graduates to the bench for the sudden-death clash.

"He's as good a kid I have coached at that age," the master coach said.

Bennett played down concerns for winger Corey Oates (calf) and forward Tevita Pangai (hamstring).

- AAP

News Corp Australia

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