Ben Hunt man of the match, Maroons defeat NSW Blues, Harry Grant

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Ben Hunt’s promotion to the Maroons’ starting side worked a charm for Queensland, with the hooker claiming man of the match honours in their 20-18 Origin III win.

After coming off the interchange and playing 46 minutes in Queensland’s Game Two defeat, Hunt returned to his familiar role of hooker in what proved to be one the most influential changes by coach Paul Green as the Maroons avoided a clean sweep with a 20-18 win over the Blues.

Hunt, who had replaced Andrew McCullough at No.9, finished the match with 41 tackles and two tries.

But arguably his best play of the night might have been the turnover he forced when he landed a perfectly timed shot to the ribs of Blues star Latrell Mitchell, who knocked the ball on during a crucial defensive set for the Maroons in the second half.

Hunt turns game for Maroons

“He showed what he can do at No.9 and I dare say he will be putting his hand up for that role next year,” said legendary Queensland fullback and current selector Billy Slater.

While Storm young gun Harry Grant has been the first-choice hooker as of late when fit, Maroons legend Cameron Smith – Queensland’s iconic former No.9 and skipper – admits Hunt is now a fair chance next season to challenge for the position.

“He’s played a lot of representative football in the nine position. Played some time there from the interchange bench,” Smith said.

“You couldn’t pick him there for Game One. Harry Grant was fit and he’s probably Queensland’s No.1 dummy-half, first-choice dummy-half.

“But … there’s got to be some question marks next year over where it goes with the No.9.”

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