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Hunt return to NRL due to injury, not form

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 23/06/2017 Matt Coughlan

He "wasn't working" for Brisbane and his reserve grade form didn't impress Wayne Bennett, but Ben Hunt is back in the NRL thanks to Anthony Milford's injury.

Despite that, the Broncos coach has backed Hunt's ability to shine through when they face a desperate Canberra at GIO Stadium on Saturday.

Hunt's first-grade exile has ended early as he returns to the bench in support of starting halves pair Kodi Nikorima and Benji Marshall.

"It wasn't working playing NRL so I thought maybe change of scenery it might just stimulate something," Bennett said of Hunt.

"He's a wonderful player; lots of ability. We need him and he knows that. We just need him to be playing at his best."

The 27-year-old's performance for Ipswich last week didn't wow his senior coach, who said he didn't run the ball enough for his liking.

"Anyway he's back. We've got an injury and we'll work from there," Bennett said.

"He knows what we want so we're sure he can deliver on it."

The Broncos will also be without star fullback Darius Boyd (broken thumb) after he was injured in a brutal State of Origin clash while Milford (shoulder) faces an extended period on the sidelines.

Bennett said Boyd will miss at least six weeks, while fellow Origin players Matt Gillett and Josh McGuire are tired but set to play.

The Raiders' season is teetering but they have the chance to catapult themselves back into the top eight with a crucial block of home matches.

Fancied as a premiership hope in the pre-season, the Raiders are perched precariously after slumping to 10th following another heartbreaking loss to Penrith two weeks ago.

The season-defining stretch kicks off on Saturday, with North Queensland set to travel to the nation's capital the following week.

After their second bye, the Raiders return to their home turf for tough assignments against St George Illawarra and Melbourne.

"We've got an important block of four home games against four quality sides but we don't want to look too far ahead either," Canberra skipper Jarrod Croker said.

"We've got to win this one tomorrow and that's only a kick-start if we do. It's a tough little period but I'm looking forward to it."

Shannon Boyd returns from a knee injury for the Raiders.

STATS THAT MATTER

* Six of the Raiders eight losses this season have been by six points or less

* The Broncos are making the most metres of any team in 2017, averaging 1525 per game, while they are conceding the fourth fewest with 1443 per game

* The Raiders have the second worst completion rate in the NRL, completing just 73.8 per cent of their sets

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