Each week former Queensland State of Origin strike weapon Chris Walker writes exclusively for QRL.com.au.

 

The next week we are going to see Billy Slater feted as perhaps the greatest fullback of all time, going into his final State of Origin appearance.

At the same time, an uncomfortable amount of people seem to want to make Maroons half Ben Hunt a pariah.

The irony of that scenario should not be lost on any true Queensland rugby league fan.

Social media has lit up this week with criticism of Ben, following Queensland's loss in Origin Game II.

But those of us with long memories can remember when people were saying the same thing of a young Billy Slater.

Billy wasn't averse to a few errors or risky manoeuvres in his younger days, and it was only self-belief and perseverance which saw him emerge above the pack over the course of his career.

Those growing longer in the tooth can remember Darren Lockyer's terrible debut for Australia.

There's not many – if any – footballers I respect more than Locky, but he had an absolute stinker.

Wendell Sailor, one of Locky's closest mates, later called it "The worst debut of any player at any level".

Now, if Darren Lockyer is not named as an Immortal in my lifetime, you can bury me in a Blues jersey.

People have been quick to pile pressure on Ben Hunt and say he doesn't deserve to be a Queensland player.

I'd flip that around and ask the question: "Are you really a true Queenslander if you're prepared to give up on supporting our players so early on?"

Benny has played just three Origin games and the first of those consisted of eight minutes off the bench.

Since then he has been handed a poisoned chalice of running one of the most successful football teams of all-time, without most of its star players.

I didn't think he played all that badly in Origin I, and in Origin II he may have got some 50-50 decisions wrong, but he was trying to win a football game.

Ben Hunt didn't purposely go and kick the ball dead on the third tackle, just as Billy Slater didn't mean to pass the ball to New Zealand's Benji Marshall for a decisive try in the 2008 World Cup final.

Even a clearly disappointed Cameron Munster said in the sheds after the match that he thought his combination with Ben needed time to develop, but was improving.

Last Sunday we lost a game by four points where we scored as many tries as the opposition and had a few key calls go against us.

How many games during Queensland's run of 11 series wins in 12 years were won by four points or less and we breathed a sigh of relief because we scraped through by the skin of our teeth?

And now we want to throw the baby out with the bathwater because we lost by a similar margin?

Queensland's strength has always been sticking strong and showing faith.

If New South Wales had done that during their losing period, instead of people crucifying Mitchell Pearce, I'm sure a few Queenslanders would agree they might have tested us further.

We have to wake up to the fact Maroons fans have been spoilt by the talent available in the last generation.

It's a purple patch that may never happen again, or will at least take a little while to consolidate.

Cameron Smith was on the losing side for the first three years of his Origin career.

Billy Slater lost his first two Origin series, then had two years out of the team, came back and played a game at fullback, then was on the bench for his next two games.

It wouldn't sit well with me if anyone suggested neither Smith nor Slater deserved the careers they've since enjoyed.

Just the same as it doesn't sit easy with me that people can bag Hunty under the duress he's faced.

Queenslanders stick together like glue.

If you let people divide you, inevitably you'll be conquered.