Ben Hunt, Daly Cherry-Evans wage State of Origin shootout


Hunt unfairly wore the brunt of criticism for Queensland surrendering the series inside two games last year before combining with Cherry-Evans to help the Maroons avoid a series whitewash.

While Cherry-Evans is considered a firm favourite to partner Cameron Munster at the scrumbase, Hunt has learned plenty of lessons from last year.

That game and the whole series in general … I know I copped a fair bit of flack, but I didn’t think I was that bad

Ben Hunt

“That game and the whole series in general … I know I copped a fair bit of flack but I didn’t think I was that bad,” Hunt said. “There were a lot of things I did well and I made some mistakes but I take a lot of confidence [out of game three].

“I’m feeling more comfortable in that arena knowing I’ve been there before.

“It’s a chance for both of us to impress but I’m sure Daly’s just thinking about getting a win for Manly at the moment. We just want to play good footy for our clubs and Kevvy will take care of the rest.”

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Hunt’s Dragons teammate and NSW foe Tyson Frizell is adamant the halfback will be included somewhere in Queensland’s team naming next month.

“If it’s not in the halves he needs to be somewhere within that team,” Frizell said. “He’s pretty versatile and he’s a great dummy-half if that’s what they’re looking for. He’s a great halfback but if selections don’t go that way you’ve got to find a way to get him in there somewhere.”

The Dragons have found their mojo after a lacklustre start to the season and are hopeful of captain Gareth Widdop returning to the fold in the latter stages of the season.

Coach Paul McGregor’s spine experiment, where Hunt spent time at hooker, was prematurely ended due to Widdop’s shoulder dislocation, a blow the Dragons are only just coming to terms with according to their No.7.

“Obviously it was devastating at the time,” Hunt said. “We were shattered. He’s one of the best players in the comp I believe.

“When he went down it was kind of like we had a chat that everything had to come forward a year. We knew Gareth was going to be gone at the end of the year and this was who it was going to be. We had to move on and start working on our combinations.

“In a way some of the games you go into [I was] wondering, ‘when’s he going to move me?’ I don’t really mind going into that [hooking] position. It doesn’t bother me a lot. [But] yes, I was thinking about it.

“It’s not really something that’s going to change how I’m going to play in the middle or as a half.”

Adam Pengilly is a Sports reporter for The Sydney Morning Herald.

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