Maroons halfback Ben Hunt.

Hunt ready to stamp authority on Maroons

Ben Hunt says he is ready to take ownership of the Maroons and run the team from halfback as the now-retired Cooper Cronk once did with distinction.

The 28-year-old said he had the right key men around him to assist with his goal of making the No.7 jersey his for years to come.

Hunt has completed a full-contact session in Maroons camp and said he was ready to rock in the opening match of the Holden State of Origin series at the MCG on Wednesday night after battling a corked thigh earlier in the week.

"I had a full contact session and got through it fine so I'm ready to go," Hunt said.

"The physio said it's all sweet now, it's just a cork and it's completely gone now. He said there's no chance of it happening unless I get another hit on it, but that can happen anywhere.

"I've done a lot of kicking so it's all good. At the start of the week you are a bit nervous, the physios are holding you back but the more the week went on the better I felt.” 

Hunt said he knew being calm in the big moments and leading the team with authority was a trait of Cronk's that he planned to emulate.

"Last year gave me a lot of confidence, just the week in camp with Queensland and I was grateful to be around guys like Cam Smith and Cooper Cronk," he said.

"Cronk, in particular, was really helpful with the way he prepares and his calmness going into games. He doesn't panic. I will take a lot out of last year and bring it to this series.

"Everyone in the team is encouraging me to [take control] and having Billy Slater in the middle helps. He takes a lot of pressure and a guy like Greg Inglis is a leader which helps me. 

"I'm not really going to know until I get out there and experience the game. I know I had nine minutes last year [in game three] or whatever it was, but it was at the back end of the game so this will be different. I have to handle it the best I can."

Hunt's partnership with five-eighth Cameron Munster will be critical and the Maroons half said they would complement each other well as they target becoming long-term halves for Queensland like Cronk and Johnathan Thurston were.

"It is on us to make it our own spot,” Hunt told NRL.com.

"Cameron was really good last year in game three and I think he is going to do a great job this series.

Queensland halfback Ben Hunt.
Queensland halfback Ben Hunt. ©Scott Davis/NRL Photos

"It is now up to me to do my job and lead the team around and cement my spot in the team if I want to be here long term.

"The more we play together, and off each other, the better it will be. I think we are a pretty good match.

"I am a genuine halfback and like to direct the team around and move the ball. He is a bit of a ball runner/ball player.  

"We will try and use both sides of the field. We have talent on the left side too with Munster and GI, so I don't think we will just keep it to one edge."

The occasion will be massive on Wednesday night as the Maroons target a vital 1-0 series lead but Hunt said he would shut out the emotion and excitement and focus on what he does best.

"The biggest thing is worrying about my job, there will be a big crowd and it will be really loud and everyone talks about how fast and quick Origin starts. When I get out there I will concentrate on what I can bring to the team.

"To have the opportunity now, it's something I'm really looking forward to and I will try and enjoy it." 

 

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