No need to Hunt for Maroons’ new hooker

Trent Johnston Roar Rookie

By Trent Johnston, Trent Johnston is a Roar Rookie

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    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.

    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.

    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.

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    The Crowd Says (7)

    • May 16th 2018 @ 6:57am
      Beergardener said | May 16th 2018 @ 6:57am | ! Report

      No – pick Macca there. You’ll get 80 minutes out of him. Good combination with Hunt at 7. Morgan on bench for injury

    • Roar Guru

      May 16th 2018 @ 7:15am
      Emcie said | May 16th 2018 @ 7:15am | ! Report

      I think you might be reading too much into things if you think that Hunt was selected last year to see how he’d go at 9, he was selected because there was a utility spot available with Morgan filling in at centre.

      I’d be worried if Hunt was selected there, the broncos defence clearly suffered without McCullough and it was only mitigated by playing all out attacking footy. Not sure that’s a viable option in the Origin arena.

      His best chance for selection would have to be at 7. Morgan’s never played there on origin and I’m not sure his form or confidence at the moment is good enough to see him get a start in the halves. With a distinct lack of leaders in the 6,7,9 positions now I’d be tempted to opt for DCE over Hunt. Hunt and Munster are great players but they’re both more suited to playing a supporting role with a dominant half then leading the team itself.

      Morgan’s pretty much got the utility spot locked in, but if for some reason he didn’t I’d probably have Segeyaro there ahead of Hunt as he offers a much more explosive impact off the bench.

      Whatever happens its gonna be interesting seeing who gets selected and it’ll be a very different team to what we’re used to. But there’s a couple weeks till the team gets named, anything could happen by then

    • May 16th 2018 @ 7:36am
      Footy 101 said | May 16th 2018 @ 7:36am | ! Report

      DCE will be hooker and captain

    • May 16th 2018 @ 9:58am
      Paul said | May 16th 2018 @ 9:58am | ! Report

      McCullogh must be the front runner, surely. Anyway you look at it, Qld still has lots of options.

      From a purely selfish point of view, I hope Qld decides Hunt doesn’t play SOO at all so he can help the mighty Dragons to keep going in the right direction.

    • Roar Guru

      May 16th 2018 @ 5:02pm
      Cadfael said | May 16th 2018 @ 5:02pm | ! Report

      Hunt at half and Morgan at 6 or the bench. Can’t see DCE getting a run anywhere.

    • May 16th 2018 @ 9:35pm
      Nico said | May 16th 2018 @ 9:35pm | ! Report

      Hunt would struggle to last the 80 at hooker, Bennett had to start him off the bench. While he provided some spark in attack he clearly struggled with the defensive load with quite a few missed tackles. At Origin level I can’t see it working

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