DARREN Lockyer is barely into retirement and already the pundits are pointing the finger as to who will be the next man to steer the Brisbane Broncos from his pivotal five-eighth position.
One man who has been appearing as a large blip on the Broncos' radar is former Central Queensland rugby league junior Ben Hunt.
Hunt joined his Brisbane teammates for the first pre-season training run last week, and by all accounts the body was feeling better than ever.
"I'm probably a bit fitter than last year," Hunt said.
The 21-year-old former Dingo schoolboy has been flagged by Broncos coach Anthony Griffin as a possible candidate to fill the vacant number six jersey next season.
But he will have some stiff competition with first-grade regulars Corey Norman, Peter Wallace and new Brisbane recruit Luke Capewell also contesting the halves position.
Hunt, however, wanted to remain focused purely on the job at hand.
He said while it was definitely a high priority of his to be in the halves, he was content to leave others to the decision making.
"Obviously I'd love to play in that position, but ultimately it's up to the coach," Hunt said.
With all four nominees in their early 20s, questions have been raised as to the experience of the young hopefuls.
Ever the optimist, Hunt opted to instead see the advantages a young side could offer.
"I think it will be a big year for us," he said.
"We've got a fair few young fellas coming through.
"Half the squad I've played with before in the under-20s.
"So we all know each other pretty well by now."
As the demands of his NRL training and playing schedule heighten, Hunt said juggling a professional football career and social life had grown easier with time.
"It has been hard but it's something you just get used to," he said.
"I'm lucky, the (Broncos) club has been really supportive."
The Broncos will open their 2012 season against Parramatta on March 1.
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