NRL news 2023: Brisbane Broncos facing Integrity Unit over Ben Hunt recruitment allegations

A day after the Dolphins were fined over player recruitment, the Brisbane Broncos are now the subject of an NRL investigation.

The league’s Integrity Unit has launched an inquiry into the Brisbane club’s dealings with Dragons captain Ben Hunt, according to a News Corp report.

Watch every game of The 2023 NRL Telstra Finals Series before the Grand Final Live & Ad-Break Free During Play on Kayo Sports. Join now and start streaming instantly >

The unit has reportedly begun a preliminary analysis of the Broncos’ alleged pursuit of Hunt back in June, when the Dragons playmaker admitted he was keen to leave Sydney.

News Corp has stated the Dragons were not the club to make the complaint.

The NRL reportedly declined to comment on the Broncos-Hunt matter and there is no suggestion the Broncos are guilty of any wrongdoing.

Back in June, Broncos chief executive Dave Donaghy denied the club had been in contact with Hunt, despite comments from coach Kevin Walters that they would be interested if he was available.

“There haven’t been any negotiations with Ben and we’re not in for him because he’s not off contract,” Donaghy said at the time.

“I saw Kevvy’s quotes about Ben, which basically said nobody had spoken to him, but if a player like that was off-contract, the club would consider him.

“Every club would.”

Hunt has since confirmed this week he intends to remain with the Dragons for the 2024 campaign, but wouldn’t commit beyond next season.

This all comes in the wake of the Dolphins being penalised following a nine-month investigation by the NRL.

On Thursday, the Dolphins were issued a breach notice for allegedly attempting to get rising Broncos star Deine Mariner to walk out on his contract with two years to run.

The breach notice was sent to the Dolphins and Mariner’s agent, Dixon McIver, following an investigation.

The Broncos had made complains to the NRL Integrity Unit late last year, according to reports, while the breach notice is the result of a nine-month investigation.

The Dolphins are the first club in the history of the NRL to be hit with such a breach notice.

In the breach notice, a $50,000 fine is proposed with half of that fee suspended.

Mariner’s agent reportedly confirmed that his client requested a release from his Broncos contract — a request which was denied.

He has since been extended through to the end of 2027.

Earlier in the year, the Dolphins made the shock claim that they felt “used” by player targets, alleging a number took advantage of their negotiations to get better deals with their existing clubs.

NRL clubs cannot induce players to break contract under its anti-tampering laws.

The NRL’s breach notice to the Dolphins reportedly claims the new franchise showed a “failure to comply with the record-keeping provisions of the (Playing Contract and Remuneration Rules)”.

The Dolphins and Mariner’s agent have five business days to reply to the breach notice.

Mariner, 20, has played six times for the Broncos over the past two years, scoring five tries.

– with Fox Sports

Originally published as Brisbane Broncos recruiting of Ben Hunt reportedly under scrutiny