FORMER Queensland centre Adrian Vowles fears the Broncos will regret letting Ben Hunt walk out of the club, after the halfback officially agreed to join the Dragons on a five-year mega deal worth a reported $6 million dollars.
Hunt’s decision to quit the Broncos to join St George Illawarra took many by surprise, but no one would begrudge the Emerging Origin squad member from taking such an incredible deal to secure his long-term future.
However, Vowles feels Brisbane could be the ones to pay the greater cost – with Hunt’s departure breaking up his successful halves combination with Anthony Milford and leaving the Broncos without the organising play-maker the club needs to complement Milford’s running game.
“Good luck to Ben, I think he has done very well for himself and he will be a great asset for the Dragons,” Vowles said.
“But I was so surprised the Broncos let him go, he is such a good little player.
“I think they are making a massive mistake by losing him.
“There were all those rumours around that they didn’t want him, and he was being linked to Parramatta for a while there.
“I never understood those rumours because I think he is a great halfback.“He has been outstanding for them since he came into first grade. He has everything in his game that a good halfback needs.
“I think he will be a big loss for the Broncos.”
Vowles himself knows a thing or two about new challenges, having recently been appointed as the new coach of Queensland’s women’s rugby league team.
With women’s sport coming into its own in recent years, Vowles is excited about being at the leading edge of one of rugby league’s new frontiers.
“It was a major honour when it was announced I got the role,” he said.
“It was something I had aspired to after being assistant coach with Australia and Queensland. So to get the top job with Queensland was pretty awesome.
“The growth of women’s sport in recent times has been incredible, with the netball girls doing so well for Queensland with the Firebirds, and obviously with the Brisbane Heat women’s team doing great as well.
“The AFL are launching their women’s competition this year, and we’ve had the women’s rugby sevens team win a gold medal at the Olympics.
“Women’s rugby league is the fastest growing section of the sport at the moment, with pathways all the way through the age levels now.
“Once upon a time, if you were a girl you had to stop playing league when you turned 12 years old.
“Now we have girls representative teams at under-14s and under-16s giving the girls pathways all the way through to the Jillaroos.
“We have a four-team Women’s Rugby League World Cup coming at the end of the year, with the final to be played at Suncorp Stadium, so it is a great time to be involved.”
Vowles can sympathise with Queensland State of Origin coach Kevin Walters, who had to forge his own winning path last year following on from the enormous success of his predecessor Mal Meninga.
Vowles takes charge of a Queensland women’s team that has lost to NSW only once in the past 18 years – with that solitary loss coming in 2016 after 17 straight years of dominance over the Blues.
Despite such and incredible strike rate, Vowles says our girls are burning to correct the ledger when the two states meet again this year.
“The girls won 17 years in a row, and then had a narrow loss last year, so we are determined to get things back on track this year,” he said.
“We know it will be tough. NSW have a great team with some wonderful players, so there is a great challenge in front of us.”