Wests Tigers captain Moses Mbye has backed St George Illawarra’s decision to rest his Queensland teammate Ben Hunt this weekend after the toll of playing hooker in State of Origin and admitted the series had been "emotionally tiring" for all players.
Mbye, who is still waiting the results of testing to determine what had caused him to suffer an anaphylactic shock at the Maroons’ Perth hotel three weeks ago, said he was coping with the added demands of Origin but had not endured the same workload as Hunt.
"I think everyone knows how hard he worked during Origin," Mbye said of the Dragons halfback who lined up at hooker for the Maroons. "He made 50-odd tackles each game and I guess you could call him out of position.
"He has been playing in the halves the last couple of years and he found himself in the middle in arguably the biggest arena in Australian sport."
Hunt averaged 46.3 tackles in the three Origins – more than double the 22.7 tackles per game in this season’s Telstra Premiership.
The 29-year-old played the full 80 minutes of each Origin and according to Telstra Tracker data, Hunt’s intensity in last Wednesday night’s series decider was 105 metres per minute compared to his season average of 86 metres per minute with St George Illawarra.
"It is a huge credit to Benny to even wheel himself back out there last week [against Canberra]," Mbye said. "He has been rested this week, which I think is a good thing for him to get himself in the right head-space and also physically to get him back into it and ready for next week."
Mbye’s intensity in the 26-20 Origin III loss was 109 metres per minute and he made 40 high-speed runs in excess of 20km/h, with his fastest speed at left centre being recorded at 33.4km/h.
In comparison, Mbye averages 29 high speed runs per match for Wests Tigers.
"Coming back you are a little bit tired but I wasn’t in the same boat as Hunty," said Mbye, who played eight minutes in the series opener and 14 minutes in Origin II as Queensland’s bench utility. "He is playing in the middle for all of those games and I didn’t have the kilometres in my legs for all those games.
"It’s more emotionally tiring now getting back into it but that is our job so you have got to turn up and get on with it. Each club these days has good staff around performance and medical wise so they look after you and manage your workloads, and things like that."
The 25-year-old said he had suffered no further ill effects from the severe allergic reaction that required the intervention of Queensland doctor Matt Hislop after he collapsed in his hotel room 48 hours before Origin II in Perth.
However, Mbye now keeps an epinephrine pen at home in case it occurs again before the cause is identified.
"That was my first experience of anything like that but you get over it real quick. I was a bit sinusy the next few days but I have been sweet ever since, like the previous 25 years," he said.
"I just have a pen at home but other than that nothing has changed. It is just one of those weird situations we are still trying to work out.
"It takes up to three months to get the results back so it is just a waiting game. It is just standard stuff, you just go and get bloods done and you literally have to wait three months before they narrow it down."
After last Sunday’s 30-18 loss to Parramatta, Mbye’s focus is helping the Tigers overcome third-placed Canberra at GIO Stadium on Saturday to remain in touch with the top eight.
"I guess you could call it a must-win for us," he said. "We are certainly coming to a cross-roads of the season where we don’t want to break away from the group.
"We have got the belief we can do it. We haven’t given up on that and we plan to be there at the end of the year. We have beat some real quality teams this year and we have been in the fight with some of the best teams in the comp. We are just missing that last bit of execution to ice the game."