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Maroons hooker Ben Hunt.

When Ben Hunt was 13 he tried to cut the plaster off his broken arm because he didn't want to let his teammates at St Brendan's College down.

Fast forward 16 years and Hunt has forged a reputation for the Queensland Maroons of being a team man prepared to do anything at any time.

Hunt is the regular starting halfback for the Dragons but in Origin I at Suncorp Stadium - in his first starting game as a hooker for the Maroons - he played 80 minutes, made 53 tackles and showed the toughness and resilience that has defined his career during Queensland's 18-14 win.

He is ready to do it all again at Optus Stadium on Sunday in Origin II and his old schoolboy coach Terry Hansen at St Brendan's College in Yeppoon is not surprised.

"Ben has always been a tough fella and prepared to do anything for his team," Hansen told NRL.com.

"When Hunty was 13 and in grade eight he broke his arm a week out from the grand final and he was about to cut his plaster off and play the next week but I had to put a stop to that.

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"I grabbed his father and we wouldn't let him do it. I got to him first because he was meant to have it in plaster for four weeks.

"His resilience in Game One was fantastic but no surprise to me. The great thing about Ben is that as a young lad he was good at schoolboy level but then when he represented any Queensland side he had the happy knack of stepping up and handling it with ease. Nothing has changed."

The main message from all of them is that they have got the belief in me to do it

Maroons hooker Ben Hunt on his support network

As for Hunt's defensive clout in the toughest arena in the game, Hansen has a story about that too.

"Ben was always a very good defender for his size and had a really good technique," Hansen said

"We'd play teams like Keebra Park High and Palm Beach Currumbin and they always had a contingent of big Polynesian lads but Ben was never afraid to take the big boys on with no fear and get in front of them.

"I always played him in the halves but when you think about it he was probably born to be a nine."

Hunt spoke to NRL.com in Maroons camp in Perth and was unsure whether he had made 53 tackles in one match in his life before he did just that in Origin I.

"I'd have to go back and have a look at the time I spent at hooker for the Broncos. I assume I would have been close, but it definitely made the shoulder sore," Hunt said.

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"That gives you a lot of belief that you can go out and do the job. Going into Game One you believe you can, but there is still that little bit of uncertainty in the back of your mind where you ask yourself 'am I going to be able to this?' and 'how hard is this going to be?'

"Looking back on the first game now I feel a lot more comfortable that I can do the job again, and probably offer a bit more."

Hunt has drawn on the advice of those he trusts, including one legendary Maroons hooker, to prepare himself to play in a position that is no longer his preferred option.

"There are a lot of people I talk to – my old man, my wife, Kevvie [Walters] and I've talked a lot to Steve Walters because he was a great hooker in his time," Hunt said.

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"Box [Steve Walters] is massive. He is our team manager but he offers a lot more than that. He is always out talking to the players and offering his two cents worth. I just pick his brain about passing and when to run while playing hooker.

"You just take little bits from everyone you talk to and the main message from all of them is that they have got the belief in me to do it. I've just got to go out and show everyone else I can."

The driving force for Hunt remains making those who have invested so much in his development proud.

"I've always been lucky enough to love the game so much and back when I was young it was all about wanting to be out there playing with and for my mates," Hunt said.

"Now it is still about playing for my teammates but also the people that look up to you and believe in you. I want to make them proud."

Hunt's father Geoff and mum De-Ann have been rocks throughout his life and gave him a great start to his life journey while growing up in the small town of Dingo in Central Queensland.

"Dad always put the miles into me and got me working, so [in] school holidays I'd be out fencing or mustering," Hunt said.

Match: Maroons v Blues

Game 2 -

Full Time
Maroons

Home Team

Maroons

Scored 6 points
Blues

Away Team

Blues

Scored 38 points

Venue: Optus Stadium, Perth

Match broadcasters:

  • Nine Network

"Mum was the one that put in all the kilometres driving us to games. When you play in Central Queensland they are two-or-three-hour drives to games and we never missed one. Mum was always willing to do that. I have to give credit to both of them."

His old schoolboy coach Hansen remains a great advocate for Hunt. Whenever the Dragons star is copping heat in the media, Hansen is quick to back one of his favourite former pupils.

"Terry was my coach and my door master at boarding school and he used to get up me a bit when I deserved it, but he has always stood by my side and never been afraid to stick up for me and protect me through the years," Hunt said.

"I am very appreciative of that. He taught me a lot of lessons."