HIS spine is fast clicking into gear but St George Illawarra coach Paul McGregor insists he'd have skipper Gareth Widdop back in a heartbeat.
Fitting three quality play-makers into his 17 was a tricky juggling act for McGregor with the Dragons stumbling to consecutive losses to start their campaign.
The spine looked to be finding their groove against Brisbane in round three before Widdop re-injured his troublesome shoulder late in the one-point win.
Corey Norman stepped up to ice the game with a late field-goal in his absence and combined with Hunt a week later to nail another one-pointer and seal a golden-point victory over Newcastle.
Widdop's absence also opened the door for Matt Dufty to return to the No. 1 jumper, with the Dragons really hitting their stride against Canterbury on Sunday.
Hunt in particular was outstanding in the seven-try rout, his combination with Norman looking more seamless with each passing week.
It led some to suggest the side is better off without the English International, who's facing a long stint on the sideline, but McGregor was quick to dismiss the talk following Sunday's emphatic win over the Bulldogs.
"When you lose a quality player like Gareth Widdop you never replace him,' McGregor said.
"Obviously [the spine] was a big discussion point over the opening three weeks before Gareth got injured. Everyone had an opinion about it.
"At different stages we got let down in the second half of the first two games. A lot [of criticism] went back at the spine but I don't think it was the spine's fault, it was a team thing.
"I didn't think there was too much wrong with it the first two weeks but it was certainly a talking point. Gareth played 73 minutes of the game against the Broncos and we got that one.
"Duft's [Matt Dufty] come in the last couple of weeks and the halves are starting to combine well which is what you do when you play a bit of footy together.
"The way [the halves] played today it looks like they're forming a nice combination and that's important because we won't have Gaz for probably another 20 weeks."
The win over the Bulldogs on Sunday took the Dragons to 3-2 despite a heavy injury toll and other off-field issues over the opening five weeks.
It's not quite the flying start they've produced in recent seasons but McGregor remains content with where his side sits.
"We've had a lot of distractions around our footy in the first five weeks," he said.
"We haven't had the same 17 any one week, there's a lot in that. In the first two weeks we played some good footy but we didn't play it for 80 minutes.
"The next two weeks we played 80 minutes of footy and won two tight contests which puts you in a good position to play well as we did [on Sunday].
"We're overcoming a few obstacles that have been put in front of us at the moment with injuries. We haven't been able to do that in the past so that's a positive."