Nigel Hunt may well be the widest halfback going around, or the shortest midfielder.

Steamers coaching staff could chuck him in at lock, however, and you get the feeling he'd still be happy.

Hunt has had to adjust to a double role within the side this season, starting at centre but covering halfback in case Samoan international Junior Poluleuligaga goes down.

It's a selection likely to continue on Saturday in Rotorua as well, when the 25-year-old takes on his former province Wellington, where he played just 15 provincial games in four seasons.

"I guess I'm just glad to be out there somewhere. I'm pretty keen to get out and support the boys and if it means switching to halfback, I'll be ready for that," Hunt said, after his 17th appearance for the Bay against Counties-Manukau on Sunday.

"That was a big thing for me when I came up from Wellington last year - I didn't want to be sitting on the bench. I can play on the wing as well but I've never played first-five!"

In fact, he was used mostly at second-five by the Steamers last season but back coach Steve Miln believes he's better suited a spot out.

"The No13 jersey does protect him a bit because we did run him into some serious traffic at 12 last season," Miln said.

"Having said that, he's not as small a midfielder as some people think. He's up around 93kg and he's pretty wide across the chest and shoulders and he hits pretty hard - I certainly wouldn't like to run into him.

"This weekend he'll be playing against all his Wellington mates so he'll be itching to get up for that."

Hunt's dual roles means the coaches have more flexibility with their bench makeup. Against Counties-Manukau, Nick McCashin, Phil Burleigh and Wayne Hughson all provided cover, with starting first-five Mike Delany covering halfback in the unlikely event of both Poluleuligaga and Hunt going down.

The scenario provides an interesting backdrop to this week's match, with Ruki Tipuna likely to start from Wellington's bench despite playing for Rangataua in the club season.

Tipuna was a late selection to the Steamers last season but wasn't wanted this year. A week after he shifted to the capital, Poluleuligaga's likely backup Josh Hall discovered he'd need surgery after breaking his leg over summer.

Hall had surgery to remove a plate last week and may be more than a month away from playing.

That's a situation Hunt knows well, having formed part of a faltering Steamers backline last year, but now he's linking well with second-five Cory Aporo.

"Those last three games last season I was really struggling and I ended up having surgery on my ankle. It's come right now and I'm raring to go," he said.

"It was another step up against Counties - we talked about it during the week how dangerous they'd be out wide so we needed to make our tackles and slide well.

"We couldn't afford to miss one-on-one tackles and they didn't really get a chance. We were communicating really well and we're getting a bit more confident in each other every week."

Former league player Clinton Toopi also had clean-up surgery on a knee last week and is returning to training this week, hoping to be available to play by round four or five.

- BAY OF PLENTY TIMES