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Hunt sets sights on Origin as he celebrates 250-game milestone

Ben Hunt still prefers to play halfback but the St George Illawarra star is proud to be considered good enough in another position to earn selection for Queensland and Australia.

It's an achievement few other playmakers can claim.

Like Andrew Johns early in his career, Hunt has played much of his representative career at hooker and as he prepares for his 250th NRL appearance this weekend the Dragons playmaker admitted he was glad his versatility had been rewarded at the highest level.

"I am just proud that I have been able to represent Queensland," Hunt said. "That was always a massive goal or dream of mine as a kid and obviously to have done it in a couple of positions is pretty special as well.

"I'd like to keep doing it at halfback if I can, that is my ideal spot but at the same time I am happy to play anywhere."

With the Dragons out of finals reckoning, Hunt is hoping to convince the Maroons selectors over the remaining four weeks of the regular season to remain loyal to him after playing all three Origins last year at hooker.

Maroons hooker Ben Hunt.
Maroons hooker Ben Hunt. ©Scott Davis/NRL Photos

Sydney Roosters veteran Jake Friend and Parramatta's Reed Mahoney are likely to be Hunt's main rivals for the Queensland No.9 jersey unless Melbourne captain Cameron Smith decides to come out of representative retirement for the series.

"It's definitely something in the back of my mind now," Hunt said.

"I've had a bit of a think about that over the last week and I've got to keep playing some good footy over the back end of the year because it's probably going to be a bit harder for players who aren't in the finals to get into those sides.

"I'm just going to put my head down and do the best I can for the Dragons and that should be enough."

After debuting with Brisbane in 2009, 30-year-old Hunt is one of the youngest players to achieve the 250-game milestone and he believes his best football is still ahead of him.

With four more years remaining on his contract with St George Illawarra, he is aiming to celebrate his 350th appearance at the club.

"It's been an up-and-down sort of career, I guess," Hunt said. "I've enjoyed some great times throughout it, there's been some lows in it as well but overall I feel pretty lucky to play the game for so long.

"The body's still traveling pretty well, I've been lucky with injuries. I think there's still some really good footy ahead of me so hopefully I can play some of that and get up around 350.

"That's definitely the goal, there's no thoughts of wanting to leave or go anywhere else. I'm just looking forward to getting a new coach and getting stuck in next year."

Hunt sends Host crashing over

St George Illawarra officials are set to interview Dean Young, Anthony Griffin and David Furner on Thursday before making a decision on the club's next coach.

Furner, who coached Canberra and has been an assistant at the Cowboys, Rabbitohs and Knights, was so highly regarded at South Sydney that the club only turned to Wayne Bennett after Anthony Seibold left for Brisbane because Furner already had a job with Leeds.

Hunt said he had been impressed with Young, who was appointed interim coach after Paul McGregor's departure three weeks ago, while he was coached by Griffin at the Broncos.

"I enjoyed playing under Anthony Griffin, I had him at the Broncos for a few years and in the under-20s as well," Hunt said. "I really enjoyed being coached by him so if he is the coach here I'd be pretty happy with that.

"I've also really enjoyed having Deano as assistant coach the few years I've been here. The few weeks he's had here with us he's really tried to put his stamp on and do things the way he wants to do it.

"I think that's been really good from Deano and, even though we lost on the weekend, he's had a fair response from us the last couple of weeks."

Second-rower Jacob Host will also celebrate his 50th NRL appearance against North Queensland on Sunday and the off-contract forward admitted he was playing for his future.

"I feel especially the last couple of weeks I have been playing some of the best football of my career but the challenge is to string those performances together over a long period," Host said.

"I have got to try and end the year well and end it on a high so that I can put my case forward for next year. I am playing for a deal pretty much."

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