Walker's advice pays off for Hunt
Queensland Maroons utility Ben Hunt has revealed some sound advice given to him in the Intrust Super Cup was the catalyst behind rediscovering his running game and regaining his confidence.
Queensland's newest debutant was not even playing in the NRL a month ago, axed to reserve grade by Brisbane Broncos coach Wayne Bennett.
The master coach had a message for Hunt, telling him to rediscover his form as an elusive ball-running halfback in the Queensland Cup.
A few days later Hunt ran out for the Ipswich Jets and it was a perfect fit.
Coached by brothers Ben and Shane Walker, the Jets are widely regarded as the most exciting team in the competition due to their ability to throw the ball around and score long-range tries.
It is all about attack for Ipswich and that was the type of environment Hunt needed to be in, thriving as he guided the Jets to a huge 44-24 win over the Norths Devils.
Hunt was best on ground, taking control from the outset and catching the eye of Queensland coach Kevin Walters in the process.
Quite clearly that is not the same as performing in the NRL, but the 27-year-old had regained some of his old habits and backed himself to be the type of player Bennett believed he could be when he demoted him to reserve grade.
Hunt was back in Brisbane's line-up for their next match against the Raiders, dominating as he bamboozled Canberra's defence with his quick footwork and superb passing game.
His confidence was back and that all stemmed from Shane Walker who took Hunt aside before the Ipswich match, drilling into him one key message.
"Shane's instructions were for me to forget about anything the Broncos had taught me during the last 10 years," Hunt said.
"He told me to play some school footy and to just enjoy what I was doing. That was the way I approached the game. I just wanted to go out and have fun.
"I was playing with a new bunch of teammates. I didn't know anyone so I just wanted to enjoy it as much as I could with those boys and that's the way I played.
"I really enjoyed my time at Ipswich. The Walker boys do things really laid back and relaxed.
"They were really open to having me out there and I enjoyed it. I was lucky enough to play a good game and make my way back to the NRL."
This idea of 'school footy' is something Walters wants to see from Hunt off Queensland's bench in Game Three.
It is why Hunt was picked, with Walters needing to see the former Kangaroo run the ball on the back of what he hopes is a dominant forward pack.
Walters has always known Hunt's class, citing that he would have picked him even if he were still playing in the Intrust Super Cup.
That is something that has filled Hunt with confidence and made him believe that he can perform on one of rugby league's biggest stages.
"That's a big vote of confidence from Kevvie. He's always talked to me about my footy and that he believes in me," he said.
"He's always had confidence in me and told me I would get my opportunity one day. I didn't think it would come this early but I'm lucky enough to be here."