SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - JUNE 24: Ben Hunt of the Maroons kicks during game two of the State of Origin series between the New South Wales Blues and the Queensland Maroons at ANZ Stadium on June 24, 2018 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Matt King/Getty Images)

Ben Hunt’s Origin II has cast doubts over how the halfback handles high pressure moments, and leave the door ajar for Daly Cherry-Evans to return.

Hunt had the weight of his state on his shoulders heading into the second game of the State of Origin series, with the Maroons down 1-0 and on the verge of losing their second series in the space of thirteen years. 

Despite Queensland suffering a 22-12 loss a few weeks ago, besides Greg Inglis, Ben Hunt was arguably the Maroons’ best player in Game I on the back of his strong kicking game. 

But on Sunday night, when the game was on the line, Hunt cracked.

The halfback’s performance will be defined by a single play late in the game, a play that ultimately cost Queensland a fourth consecutive series.

It was the 70th minute, James Roberts had just been sin-binned for taking out Gavin Cooper in a kick chase. New South Wales were pegged on their on line, a man down, defending a repeat set. Queensland had the Blues just were they wanted them.

Yet on just the third tackle of the set, Hunt dabbed a grubber behind the Blues, hurdling over the dead ball line, handing them a seven tackle set, and ultimately the series.

SEE ALSO:  Dufty to lift for the Dragons in 2019

And this isn’t Hunt’s first major error in a big game, either.

His career thus far has been marred by his performance late in 2015 NRL Grand Final, 20 minutes Hunt would much rather forget.

From the 65th minute onwards, the former Bronco tried to wind the clock down with a series of touching finding kicks instead of trying to attack the Cowboys’ line, attempting to defend Brisbane’s slender 16-12 lead.

Then, with a minute on the clock, Hunt’s loose carry saw Kyle Feldt strip the ball one-on-one, handing North Queensland possession that would eventually lead to a four-pointer less than a minute later.

The biggest howler of all however came seconds into golden point, with Hunt dropping the kick off, and Jonathan Thurston slotting a premiership-winning field goal three tackles later.

Hunt just isn’t a big game player.

The reaction to Hunt’s game management in Game II has been so negative that fans have called the axe to swing on Hunt, and Daly Cherry-Evans to regain his spot in the Marina line-up, despite a three year exclusion.

Cherry-Evans has found a new lease on life since being handed Manly’s captaincy, but the Sea Eagles’ off-field dramas has reflected to the club’s on-field performance, with the Trbojevic brothers the only Manly stars featuring in the series.

SEE ALSO:  Bulldogs keen on duo which could set off domino effect

Blooding Ash Taylor could also be an option for head coach Kevin Walters, but it seems certain rising star Kalyn Ponga will start in Game III following a fantastic debut from the interchange bench.

St George Illawarra fans must be nervous as well following Hunt’s performance, with the club banking on their star recruit to deliver in this year’s NRL Finals Series, but confidence must be low following a series defeat in only his second match as a starting half in the Origin arena.

Whether Hunt retains his position or Cherry-Evans earns a recall is anyone’s guess, but regardless of Walter’s decision, it’s not a great time to be a Queenslander. 

33 COMMENTS

  1. Hahahaha hunts a dud but so is dce he will never play origin again hes not good enough

  2. It wasnt just this kick. The Roberts sin binning glossed over the fact that the kick in that play was a terrible option too. Early in the count and NSW had it very easily covered.

  3. Hunt isnt a big game player thats bad news for dragoon fangirls innit parra are gonna smash them

  4. They have to go with Taylor.Solid all round.Qld have lost the series why wouldnt you bring Taylor in now.They can stick with Hunt or bring in DCE(cant see it happening) but if they are down next year 1-0 are they going to bite the bullet than?I also dont think McCullough is up to SOO level and id go with Friend or maybe Granville.If by chance they did give DCE another shot im pretty sure it will only be a fill till Morgan is back next year anyway so why not go with Taylor.Im by far not knocking DCEs footballing ability its just him.No explanation needed

  5. “No-one could have played worse than Daly when filling in for Cronk…”. Ben Hunt, “Hold my beer…”

  6. Give Hunt a break, he didn’t play that bad. He did that kick because Tedesco was in the line because they only had 12 which would give them a repeat set and another shot at the NSW right side. Face it QLD, Hunt is your best half, unless Morgan can return to his 2017 form…

    • Hunt kicked it dead off the 3rd tackle then not long later put a crap kick in that was taken on the full in goal for another 7 tackle set (luckily for QLD, NSW lost the ball off the first play). Lost the ball twice, one crucial one trying to take a hit up 20 meters out. Grasped at air when Addo-Carr stepped inside to score. Against 12 men in the dying minutes against a tiring team he should have taken control, instead it was Ponga and Munster that looked most dangerous. In saying that, DCE is not an option.

      • GLD have no better options at half though.

        DCE: one of the best halves in the comp but QLD hate him
        Ash Taylor: QLD won’t pick him because of their pedantic fear of picking young halves
        Michael Morgan: Not a renowned number 7
        Corey Norman: Out of form, had unbelievable potential but Moses controls the Eels now.
        Moses Mybe: Not a renowned number 7

        Good luck QLD!!!

        • Morgan will be playing halfback full time next year at the cowboys, if he is in form he is a walk in.

  7. The biggest thing I noticed with hunt was his general end of set kicking. No distance and straight to defenders. His bombs weren’t high enough to give his chasers a chance.
    Munster just as bad with his couple of kicks.

  8. The dragons fans have every reason to be very concerned. This bloke will crack under big game pressure every time. Awful kicking game and poor tight game choices. He belongs in the 9 jumper.

  9. i always said blunts a dud and again proving the joke of the league , with his bad hands terrible defence and sideways kicks , over paid 2nd grader

  10. This Dragons fan isn’t concerned what so ever. Hunt has one poor kick and everyone is pulling over the coals.
    Ben is one of the major reasons the Dragons have been on top of the ladder most of the season.

    One thing I’ve always said on this site is how far have a lot of you knockers got in your NRL career????
    Cheers

    • Hunt is in the lucky position at the Dragons in that he has probably the best five eight in the competition playing outside him. Qld have to blood Ash Taylor in the dead rubber – nothing to loose and way in front for next year.

  11. Munster to Halfback (he did most teh controlling anyway)
    Milford to five-eight (let him roam around)
    Ponga to FB once BIlly is done

    Morgan to bench

  12. DCE is just as useless as Hunt if not more! (In SOO of course) You have to go to Taylor for game 3 and then it’d be a two horse race next year out of him and Morgan. Also McCullough is another version of Peats, very safe in both attack and defence, has a very good kicking game unlike Peats though, but won’t threaten the blues like Cook does to the Maroons. Granville will fill that role easily! I understand QLD have a fear of throwing Taylor in because of age, but game 3 would benefit them and Taylor himself for the long run. Maybe even next year bring him off the bench, as they have done with a lot of their playmakers. Cronk, DCE, Hunt, Ponga etc. A spine of:

    1. Ponga
    6. Munster
    7. Morgan
    9. Granville

    With Taylor at 14, scares me a lot as a blues fan. Giving the fact that Munster and Ponga haven’t even hit their prime and will only get better, with the fact that Morgan and Granville play together at club level, it won’t get any better than that. Also should try changing up the forward pack geez Wallace is a dud. Move McGuire to prop and start Arrow at 13. Cooper isn’t getting younger and doesn’t offer anything other than his defence, try building for the future and beyond with the younger guys. Changes I’d make for game 3:

    1. Slater
    2. Holmes
    3. Inglis
    4. Chambers
    5. Gagai
    6. Munster
    7. Taylor
    8. Napa
    9. Granville
    10. McGuire
    11. Papalii
    12. Kaufusi
    13. Arrow

    14. Ponga
    15. Ofahengue
    16. Welch
    17. Sua

  13. I can’t believe the difference billy slater made in his qld side,
    hopefully this is it for him!!!!

  14. Daly deserves another shot and has earnt it but won’t get it as he has obvious differences with the senior playing group of QLD. No one is doubting his playing ability and how good he is but he is an acquired taste. The last thing I would want to see happen to him is they lose the game and pin it on him. Because he loves the state and wants to play for that jersey. Hunt was horrible in origin 2 and in origin 1 he was unoticable. But its only 2 games and as much as I think DCE would do better then Hunt. Hunt deserves more than just 2 games unlike what Daly got. I don’t want to see what happened to Daly happen to Hunt.

  15. The series is lost now and we all know this could be the last series for Slater and Ingles. I would let Slater keep the fullback jersey he played extremely well and deserves one last game. Ponga is the future and you could make an arguement to start him there but he will have his time next year 100%.
    Hunt definitely proved not to be a big time player but with Morgan out for game 3, I don’t think it’s worth throwing Ash Taylor in to lead with nothing to win, especially with him not being in the best form. If Ash starts at 7 he has to lead the team around the park and take on a huge responsibility and potentially risk losing a lot of confidence. Don’t get me wrong he’s good but if they lose and the media says a few bad things about him, he could find it really difficult to have to wait a full year just to get a shot to regain his confidence back and at such a young age that’s a big risk. It’s safer to suggest DCE will get given a shot, knowing he’s already had his opportunity failed, gone back to club land got form and leadership and gets another shot in a make or break it game. He really has nothing to lose and everything to gain. I’d have this as my team:

    1. Billy Slater (final game)
    2. Val Holmes
    3. Greg Ingles (c)
    4. Will Chambers
    5. Dane Gagai
    6. Cam Munster
    7. Daly Cherry-Evans (make or break)
    8. Dylan Napa
    9. Andrew McCullogh
    10. Josh McQuire
    11. Coen Hess (experience but very fresh)
    12. Felise Kaufusi
    13. Jai Arrow (worth a go, nothing to lose)

    14. Kalyn Ponga
    15. Jarrod Wallace
    16. Josh Papalii
    17. Joe Ofahungue (new face)

    18. Tim Glasby
    19. Ben Hunt

    • Mate dce cant even run our team hows he gonna run the qld side ? You think ben hunts last tackle options are bad hahaha you aint seen nothing yet 🙂

    • Daly isn’t going too bad. Not top form but good form. Hodko kicks are the ones hurting, thats why he has been dropped to the bench.

    • From DCE all he would really need to do to prove himself better than he was last time is kick the ball well and let Munster run it. DCE isn’t in top form but he’s a better player than he was before. He would also be joining a playing group without all the old heads minus Ingles and Slater which I think he would prefer and I think he would feel more honoured to get another shot and do his best after his last attempt.
      The only real options are Hunt who fails badly under any pressure, Ash Taylor who is to young and inexperienced and would be a big risk to throw out there. DCE who has failed in the past but would be joining a new team under a new coach who have already lost the series with nothing to lose or lastly Corey Norman who can’t even lock down a spot at Parra and isn’t in a good head space.

      • DCE can’t just kick it. He needs to control the team, he has to open his eyes and read defensive errors and work out how to break a team down. How to exploit weaknesses and how to constantly make the right decision under immense pressure.

        Which lines his outside players should run and what schemes need to be changed during each second of the game. Because I can be for sure that Munster isn’t going to do that.

    • The talk of Taylor being too young is absolutely rubbish! Cleary is 2 years younger and look how he’s taken Origin. There’s absolutely nothing to lose for him or the maroons if they take him. The series is lost and fans will understand that if they pick him, it’s for the future. DCE on the other hand, probably isn’t even in their future plans otherwise if he was, he would’ve been picked last year on the good form he was showing. McCullough is talented but Granville on the other hand can threaten the blues a lot more, ways Cook does to QLD. Qld also desperately need a goal kicker and that’s where Taylor comes in. Other than that it’s a good team, I forgot about Hess I’d have him on my bench and Papalii starting. No way Wallace still makes Qld, he’s another Aaron Woods. Welch and Sua I’d have a look at for game 3.

      • The thing about Ash being to young is not about the fans. If Taylor is selected and goes out there to early and QLD lose (rather likely) it could serious affect his confidence and ability to play at the level. Then on top of that the media and fans could slag him off and say he’s not up to it and so on and he wouldn’t have an opportunity to even play at that level (if he makes selection) for a whole year. That could be really bad for someone who could be vital in the future.
        Whereas DCE he’s already failed at this level and in a series where there’s nothing to win just to gain experience he could be gold. At this stage he’s seen as no way can’t do it bloke. But imagine if he goes out there in game 3 and plays well, all of a sudden he’s not a dud and his confidence will be high. He will think he’s back in contention next year and will play much better. Even if he doesn’t play well, he’s just proven no I can’t do it, we lose the series which we already have and next year we can count him out and put full confidence into either a someone else.

  16. Where have all the good halfbacks gone? Who would you say is the top number 7’s in the comp?
    1. Pearce
    2. Cronk
    3. Cleary
    4….

Comments are closed.