Ultimate insult for NRL’s $6 million flop
Rugby league hardman Mark Carroll says besieged Ben Hunt is closer to reserve grade than State of Origin.
Hunt and his St George Illawarra coach Paul McGregor are the NRL's two most scrutinised characters four days into the competition's resumption with opinions divided over who's to blame over the Dragons' dismal winless start.
With only twin wins over last year's wooden spooners Gold Coast from their past 13 games and unable to post a point against the New Zealand Warriors at the weekend, McGregor is odds-on to be the first coach sacked in 2020.
And Hunt, who signed a bumper $6 million, five-year deal with an option for a sixth year in his favour, is copping plenty of flak for not living up to his pay packet.
So too is his halves partner Corey Norman, who in late 2018 signed a deal reportedly worth more than $2 million over three seasons.
"Old Mary (McGregor), he can't hide. He's had one game back and they've lost," Carroll told Fox League Live.
"But I just look at the halves. Ben Hunt, everyone's talking about (how) he's on this massive money.
"But he came out last week saying he's worried about the end of the year because State of Origin is going to be played after (the season) and there's going to be some teams disadvantaged about not playing in the semi-finals.
"Hello? Ben? Deadset, mate, no one gets picked from reserve grade and the way his performance was at the weekend, he'll end up being there.
"Mary will have no other option than to put you in reserve grade. You've got to aim up and guide this team around. I don't see any guidance.
"You can see by the footy - they wouldn't scare anyone."
Carroll's barbs came after ex-NSW hooker Michael Ennis called for Hunt to be moved from No. 7 into a roving role or acting dummy-half, which he has played for Queensland and Australia.
Meanwhile, other NRL legends also took aim at the spluttering Red V.
Dragons premiership winner Jamie Soward told Channel 9 "there was no enthusiasm in what they were doing, no purpose", while former Penrith prop Mark Geyer hit out at the players' like of pride in the jersey.
"It's worrying when you've been in lockdown for nine weeks and nearly every other team in the competition came out and showed some pride in their jersey. The Dragons didn't," Geyer said on the Triple M Rush Hour.
"They were very, very disappointing. I'm not going to single out any one player, I'm singling out the whole 17.
"You're playing against a team that's come over from New Zealand with their suitcases to last four or five months ... they don't know when they're going back to see their families.
"These guys are busting their a***s, the Warriors. Maybe they should have passed on a bit of their pride to the Dragons because the Warriors never looked like losing this game.
"The Dragons, unfortunately, they couldn't do anything in that game. When you don't score a point against the team that is perennially down the bottom of the ladder, the alarm bells ring.
"I don't know who for, if it's the coach, if it's the halves, if it's the hooker, the back row, the front row... I'm looking at this team and they have underachieved."
Maroons coach Kevin Walters on Monday urged Hunt and Dragons five-eighth Corey Norman to take on the line more.
Hunt had just two runs from 65 possessions in the Dragons' 18-0 loss to the Warriors, while Norman took the line on six times in his 80 minutes.
"Ben Hunt's biggest asset is his running game, and I have been telling everyone that for years," Walters, who has coached both of the pair in Origin, told Sky Sports Radio.
"(The six-again rule) is perfect for those two. Corey Norman is a great runner of the ball too.
"The message from me would be clear to both those players - challenge the line.
"You'll get some good results on the back of it."
Carroll said a left-field recruitment might be the way to kickstart the Dragons' woeful attack.
"They've got some explaining to do," he said. "I was watching the Wests Tigers game and on the sidelines, (playmaker) Josh Reynolds. Mate, he's not going to get a game there.
"Give this kid a go. Josh Reynolds, go to the Dragons with your energy, enthusiasm and guide this team around.
"He only needs a chance and I think there's an opportunity there at the Dragons."
Originally published as Ultimate insult for NRL's $6 million flop