Family a Central Issue for Hunt
A productive pre-season has South Sydney recruit Hymel Hunt confident that he can be the man to fill the void left by the departed Dylan Walker.
Hunt has enjoyed a sound start to his rugby league career, representing the Gold Coast Titans and Melbourne Storm at NRL level, Queensland in the under-20s State of Origin, and was a member of the 2013 NYC Team of the Year.
The 22-year-old managed one game for the Titans in 2013, before playing three times for the Storm during the Origin period last year, scoring on his club debut in the Round 14 loss to Parramatta.
While Hunt is saddened to leave his friends at the Storm, the new recruit is noticeably excited to have made the move to Redfern.
"The Storm were awesome. They're a very family oriented club. I wish nothing but the best for them this year," Hunt said of his former team.
"It's so rich in history here [at South Sydney]. I love how we've got 1908 on our socks. I just love everything about the club.
"We've got a very stellar group here. Everyone's so close. I wouldn’t say it's a team – I'd say it's a brotherhood.
"I've got a lot of family in Sydney. I'm a really family oriented person, and I love being around family and all my close friends. I had no family in Melbourne, so that was one of the main reasons I left."
Family was clearly one of the driving forces behind Hunt's move north, but it also represents one of his biggest obstacles.
If the rangy centre wants to force his way into the South Sydney squad for Round 1, he must do so at the expense of his teammate – and cousin – Kirisome Auva'a.
"Whoever gets the spot gets the spot," Hunt said about his battle with his older cousin.
"We're always pushing each other along. We're really good mates, so we like to put the competition aside and just try to help each other improve."
Auva'a spoke highly of his cousin, and was glad to see him fitting into his new surroundings so comfortably.
"There's not too much rivalry between us," Auva'a happily told NRL.com.
"I know he's a quality player and if he gets the nod, then I'm happy for him. At the same time, I hope he feels the same way if I get the nod."
Hunt has had an impressive start to his life as a Bunny, starting in the side's Charity Shield win over the Dragons, and scoring a try in their narrow victory over the Gold Coast Titans.
He knows the importance of making a good impression with his new coach, and believes he has done everything possible to earn his spot in the side's Round 1 clash against arch-rivals the Roosters.
"There's a big opportunity in the centres here, so that's one thing I'm really looking forward to," Hunt said.
"Bryson's obviously got that left spot wrapped up. He's got the experience. He's actually a good mentor for us younger guys. We're all learning off him.
"I think I've put myself in the best position possible to get the spot. I've worked hard in all the trials, so now it's just up to Madge."