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No need to Hunt for Maroons' new hooker

Are we about to see Ben Hunt wearing Maroon again? (AAP Image/Dave Hunt)
Roar Guru
15th May, 2018
7

Ben Hunt should steer the Maroons in this year’s State of Origin series.

Cameron Smith’s sudden representative retirement leaves Kevin Walters desperately searching for a hooker.

In recent years, Jake Friend has been the shadow for Smith when injury has arisen, but his form has dipped to the point that Roosters’ fans are now questioning their captain’s role in his club team.

Queensland, of course, have a wealth of options at No.9.

Andrew McCulloch is perhaps the obvious candidate, and his recent absence for the Broncos is a good indication of his value.

Jake Granville has been impressive in recent years, although this year – like Friend – his form has dipped.

James Segeyaro had involvement with the Emerging Origin Program, although that was a few years ago, and he is a bench player for the Sharks these days.

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For Origin 3 last year though, Ben Hunt was a surprise selection as a bench player. He wasn’t needed to play there during that game to give Smith a rest, but Queensland’s selectors actually wanted a closer look at how he would work in the position over the coming years.

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They were impressed with what they saw, and he certainly played well for the Broncos in McCulloch’s absence leading into the finals in 2017. This led to Hunt’s selection by Mal Meninga to provide cover with the Kangaroos in the World Cup.

What has thrown a cat amongst the pigeons though, is his outstanding 2018 form at halfback for St George Illawarra, having put his best foot forward to demand representative selection.

He reminds me of Craig Gower, who often played representative football at hooker, but led Penrith to the 2003 premiership with John Lang saying he was just too good to be a hooker at club level.

Could that be Ben Hunt in 2018? Strong in defence and steering the ship from dummy half while Michael Morgan and Cameron Munster fill the halves roles as they have proven to do well in the past.

It may just make more sense than picking Hunt at halfback and replacing Smith with two other hookers to fill the 80 minutes.