Cameron Smith and Ben Hunt in camp in 2017. Picture: AAP
Cameron Smith and Ben Hunt in camp in 2017. Picture: AAP

Maroons call on GOAT to mentor hooker Hunt

New Queensland hooker Ben Hunt is set to enlist the help of Maroons champion Cameron Smith to prepare him for the biggest test of his career in Origin I next Wednesday night.

Hunt will make his starting debut in the Queensland No.9 jumper and is hoping Smith will make a cameo visit to Camp Maroon this week to impart his hooking wisdom ahead of the series opener at Suncorp Stadium.

Queensland's greatest hooker, Smith wore the No.9 jumper in a record 42 Origin games and with Melbourne enjoying a bye weekend, the former skipper will be summoned by Maroons coach Kevin Walters.

Queensland's starting halfback just 12 months ago, Hunt faces a critical test of his versatility with his transformation into an Origin hooker and plans to seek the counsel of Smith.

"Hopefully he is coming in later in the week and I can get some tips," he said.

"Smitty has been the best hooker in our game ever and the things I try and take out of his game is his calmness and the speed he plays the game.

"He knows when to speed things up and when to slow things down.

"He is always relaxed in the middle and gets the ball to the men that need it.

"Hopefully, we can get him into camp later in the week and I can learn a bit off him."

 

Ben Hunt will start at hooker. Picture: Adam Head
Ben Hunt will start at hooker. Picture: Adam Head

 

Axed as halfback by Walters after two consecutive losses last year, Hunt played 49 minutes off the bench in Origin III.

While he impressed as a back-up to hooker Andrew McCullough, there are concerns as to whether Hunt has the engine to handle the defensive demands of a full 80-minute performance in the Origin arena.

But the Dragons playmaker is confident he can do the job in a daunting showdown with NSW hooker Damien Cook.

"I'm ready," he said.

"I think I can get a full game.

"Going back to my time at the Broncos, I was playing a full game at hooker and I feel I can handle a full 80 minutes in the middle in Origin.

 

Cam Smith will come into the QLD camp. Picture: AAP
Cam Smith will come into the QLD camp. Picture: AAP

 

"I know it's a different game, but you find ways out there to get your breath back.

"I've got no problems starting, I'd rather start at hooker than come off the bench. You run out and just get straight into it."

Hunt says he has come to terms with having lost his Queensland No.7 jumper last year.

"I'm definitely close to the fittest I have ever been," he said.

"The last two or three years have been the best of my career and hopefully I have built on that each year.

"Being dropped out of my position last year, I want to prove I belong in this arena and just forget about everything that happened and enjoy myself and rip in."

News Corp Australia


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