Ben Hunt may take over the Queensland No.6 jersey barely a month after being banished to reserve grade, if Billy Slater’s injury forces a backline reshuffle.
A month after being banished to reserve grade, Brisbane halfback Ben Hunt could be in line to make his Queensland debut at five-eighth.
The recently out of favour Broncos playmaker may be the big winner if Billy Slater’s ankle injury forces a backline reshuffle for Wednesday night’s State of Origin decider in Brisbane.
Slater caused a scare in the Maroons camp on the Gold Coast on Sunday when he rolled his ankle late in an opposed session.
The 34-year-old will be monitored ahead of game three — potentially his final Origin for Queensland.
Queensland winger Valentine Holmes said Cameron Munster would likely slot into fullback and bench utility Hunt into five-eighth if Slater succumbed to his ankle complaint.
“Cameron Munster (at fullback), me and Gags (Dane Gagai) on the wings and …because we’ve got Hunty on the bench we’d probably just put him in the halves, then everyone still knows the plays,” Holmes said of their back-up plan.
It would cap a remarkable turnaround for Hunt who was playing for Ipswich just weeks ago after being relegated to Queensland Cup by Broncos coach Wayne Bennett to work on his running game.
Two NRL games back from his banishment, Hunt earned a Queensland bench utility call-up over form Manly playmaker Daly Cherry-Evans.
He could now be in the mix to take over the Queensland No.6 jersey made famous by the likes of Immortal Wally Lewis.
Former Maroons skipper Lewis believed Hunt should credit his Queensland Cup stint with reclaiming his mojo.
“It really has inspired him,” he told Nine Network’s The Footy Show.
“He’s started to run the ball a lot more than he has in previous games.
“When Queensland bring him onto the field they want him to really be a strike weapon.
However, Queensland prop Jarrod Wallace backed Slater to win his fitness battle and the Maroons to play as per program.
“He’s a tough cookie so it will take a lot more than a rolled ankle to keep him out of it,” he said.
History is against whoever wears the Queensland No.6 jersey in game three.
The Maroons have never won an Origin series using three different halves combinations.
Anthony Milford wore No.6 in game one, Johnathan Thurston returned to kick the match winning sideline conversion in game two despite suffering a season ending shoulder injury, opening the door for Munster to take over — for now.
NSW have only ever won a series with three different halves once – back in 1990.