Ben Hunt: Upside to Origin player drain
They may have suffered a one-point defeat at the hands of the Wests Tigers with their Origin players absent but Broncos half Ben Hunt says the opportunity to blood young players is an exciting aspect of this time of year.
With six players in camp with the Maroons Brisbane blooded exciting young forwards Jaydn Su'A and Tevita Pangai Jnr with 18-year-old Su'A running for 91 metres and making 45 tackles in an 80-minute NRL debut.
Hunt knows what an opportunity to debut during the Origin period feels like having made his maiden top grade appearance in Round 15, 2009 and has told Big League this week that watching young players emerge is the upside to the absence of representative players.
"I get really excited about seeing what the younger guys can do when they get the chance to play in the NRL," Hunt says in the Round 13 issue of Big League.
"Jaydn Su'A is a great example of someone benefiting from an opportunity over the Origin period. He's a young guy who debuted for us last weekend because Matt Gillett, Josh McGuire, Sam Thaiday and Corey Parker were all away on Origin duty.
"To be honest, I thought he was one of the best players on the field. He's a young, talented forward, he's an aggressive defender and he didn't let us down at all.
"Tevita Pangai Junior is another and I thought he was excellent as well. He brought a lot of energy off the bench and he's a great prospect."
While Hunt expressed his personal desire to see State of Origin move to stand-alone weekends in the future, he does recall fondly the prospect of an NRL debut that emerged at the start of the 2009 season given Brisbane's representation in the Origin arena.
"Some of the great Broncos received their first opportunities around Origin time," Hunt says.
"I made my debut during the Origin period several years ago now. We had a few players in Origin and I got to make my debut against Cronulla. It was the most exciting time in my life at that point.
"We lost the game, but I was just excited to play NRL. My teammate Andrew McCullough is another player who made his debut around Origin time, and he's gone on to forge a great career.
"Knowing that our club would have a number of players in Origin gave me a glimmer of hope early in the season that I might be given my opportunity in the top grade and I know that hope is important for younger players.
"The Broncos coach at the time, Ivan Henjak, told me there would be opportunities and by the time it came around we had Darren Lockyer out and Peter Wallace played for NSW, which gave me the perfect opportunity to finally live out my NRL dream."
The Round 13 issue of Big League is on sale now from newsagents and at the ground. The digital version is also available through www.zinio.com, the Apple iTunes Store and Google Play.