Good thing Alfie isn`t a selector eh ?State of Origin 2017: Allan Langer calls for Ben Hunt to make his Origin debut in Game III
QUEENSLAND’s greatest halfback Allan Langer has called for Ben Hunt to be handed his maiden Maroons jumper for the Origin decider — just a fortnight after being axed from the Broncos.
As Maroons coach Kevin Walters desperately tries to fill the void left by injured stars Johnathan Thurston and Darius Boyd, Langer believes Hunt can be Queensland’s Mr Fixit in Origin III.
Hunt’s final season at the Broncos appeared in tatters just two weeks ago when the halfback, who will join the Dragons next year on a $6 million deal, was dropped to Intrust Super Cup side Ipswich.
But Anthony Milford’s shoulder injury opened the door for Hunt, who made a triumphant return to the Broncos on Saturday night, spearheading Brisbane’s 30-20 defeat of the Raiders.
Playing off the bench, Hunt was magnificent, kicking judiciously and compiling two try assists, two line-break assists and one tackle bust in his most complete display of the season.
The pint-sized Langer famously emerged from Ipswich to star in his Origin debut in 1987. Thirty years later, he urged Walters, his former Broncos halves partner, to blood Hunt in the Origin decider at Suncorp Stadium on July 12.
“Like me, Ben could go from Ipswich to the Maroons and I certainly hope he does,” said Langer, who played 34 Origin matches for the Maroons.
“Personally, I think Queensland should pick Ben on the bench (for Origin III).
“I have no doubt he could handle State of Origin despite him being dropped to reserve grade.
“I like ‘Hunty’ as a utility option. If the Maroons are going to go with guys like (Cameron) Munster and (Michael) Morgan in the starting side, they should look at Ben for the bench.
“Ben has played plenty of hooker at the Broncos so he has that versatility — he would be the perfect utility for Queensland.”
Walters stunned many last week when he called Hunt into Camp Maroon as a development player for Origin II, just days after he made his reserve-grade debut for the Jets.
Broncos coach Wayne Bennett said he had no issue with Walters’ stance and insists Hunt has the ability to handle an Origin baptism.
“I wasn’t surprised Ben was called into camp,” he said. “It’s what they do these days. Kevin rang me and asked if it was OK and I said go for your life, I’ve got no problems.”
Hunt forged a slick alliance against the Raiders with rejuvenated playmaker Benji Marshall, who says the Maroons hopeful’s axing was the wake-up call he needed.
“It teaches you hunger,” Marshall said.
“I know what it’s like to get dropped back to reserve grade — I’ve played for Redcliffe this year.
“It showed Ben where he wants to be and it gives you perspective.
“To see the way he handled it, that’s what makes a professional.”