Ben Hunt wants Queensland’s No.7 jersey


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    Ben Hunt wants to take his NRL game to another level in a bid to secure Queensland’s No.7 jersey next season if Cooper Cronk retires at year’s end.

    Hunt admits he is now hungrier than ever to wrap up the starting spot in 2018, after making his State of Origin debut off the bench in Wednesday’s decider.

    His bench selection in the Maroons’ victorious side would appear to put him at the top of the list of contenders for next season, ahead of Manly’s Daly Cherry-Evans and the Gold Coast’s Ash Taylor.

    Hunt said he would use the desire to return to State of Origin as a motivation for his own improvement over the next year.

    “I’ve been thinking about it a little bit to myself for a while now,” he said.

    “It’s pretty common knowledge that everyone knows the team is getting a bit older and there are a few players there that need to move on.

    “Having that shot on Wednesday and just getting my foot in the door and having a taste of it has made me a bit hungrier.

    “I need to probably go to another level on what I’m playing now, but I think I can do it.”

    Hunt’s best chance to impress will come when he takes on further responsibility at St George Illawarra next season.

    With a damaging forward pack in front of him, the Dragons have pinned their attacking hopes on the 27-year-old.

    He will also be under pressure to match his big-ticket price tag of more than $1 million per season.

    But he’s confident his experience in the Queensland camp – as 18th man for Game II and off the bench for Game III – has left him in the best position to launch his charge for Cronk’s jersey.

    “I was just trying to take in as much as I could from Cameron Smith and Cooper Cronk,” he said.

    “They’re so relaxed and are two of the best in the world at what they do – they’re just so composed and relaxed they are, no matter this situation.

    “Whatever happens, if they get behind they still have the same gameplan. They stick to what they are going to do.”

    © AAP 2018
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