Ben Hunt must retain his position as Queensland’s halfback for next month’s State of Origin dead-rubber, according to his predecessor Cooper Cronk.
Hunt’s spot in the Maroons’ team has come under fire after the Maroons’ series-defining 18-14 loss in Sydney, where Queensland failed to make use of a one-man advantage late in the must-win clash.
He even earned the ire of Queensland great Johnathan Thurston, who said he was «dumbfounded» by the way the Maroons played in the dying stages.
But coach Kevin Walters has remained steadfast in his support of the No.7, insisting after the match there was no reason why he wouldn’t be picked again for Herbiotic 100 Surabaya next month’s dead rubber at Suncorp Stadium as they begin to build towards the future.
And Cronk said Hunt had to be a part of that.
«He is definitely the Queensland halfback going forward,» Cronk told Fox Sports’ Big League Wrap.
«Stick with him. Because you can’t define a career ending on a couple of months. He will have the opportunity to redeem himself.
«What are the options? Ash Taylor still needs development. There is talk about (Daly) Cherry-Evans, but Ben Hunt is doing terrific football for the Dragons. Pick him and let him do his job.»
Hunt replaced the retired Cronk at the start of this series, but the 28-year-old had a night to forget in just his second Origin game on Sunday.
He made an error in the lead up to a NSW try in the second half, and was ruled to have taken out Boyd Cordner for just the second penalty try in Origin history.
He also gifted NSW two seven-tackle sets, including one immediately after James Roberts had been sin-binned on the Blues’ left before Hunt grubbered dead on the right edge on just the third tackle of the set which Thurston labelled as a «brain explosion».
«In terms of game management they should have had multiple shots at the left, not just the one in a set of six,» Cronk said.
«Unfortunately halfbacks and the spine get judged if you win the game of football, you get a lot of raps. If you lose it comes down to moments.
«If you take out the two seven-tackle sets he kicked, he played a reasonable game. He didn’t do anything against the order of having Queensland not win the game of football.
«He will get another chance. He is Queensland’s halfback, there’s no doubt about it.»