Ben Hunt insists he will be better prepared to play five-eighth for Queensland in next week’s Origin decider as it emerged match officials deemed the incident that put Cameron Munster out of Origin II was worthy of a penalty but had played advantage.
Hunt was used in a roving role in Origin I and after struggling to adapt to five-eighth when called on to replace Munster in the third minute, he revealed that he had not trained in the halves with the Maroons.
Munster will undergo a series of tests under the concussion protocols before he can be cleared for Origin III after being unable to return in Wednesday night’s 34-10 loss due to category 1 symptoms he displayed by stumbling after hitting his head on the ground.
The star five-eighth fell awkwardly after fielding a Nathan Cleary kick in the in-goal area and referee Gerard Sutton would have blown a penalty to the Maroons for a mid-air tackle on Munster by Tyson Frizell but he decided to play advantage.
By doing so, the Maroons received a 20-metre restart and a seven-tackle set, whereas they would have been kicking for touch in front of their own posts if a penalty had been awarded.
Match: Maroons v Blues
Game 3 -
Venue: Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane
Munster must wait five days before being able to return to contact training and won't be cleared until he passes a computer-based cognigram test.
Hunt is expected to train at five-eighth until Munster is given the go-ahead and will prepare as if he is going to start in the role in next Wednesday night’s decider at Suncorp Stadium.
DCE keen to get to Suncorp
"I wasn’t really expecting to go in there and I was preparing for something else so I will look at next week and prepare to play anywhere," Hunt said.
"Obviously we will assess how Munny is but I will prepare to play No.6 as well as the other roles I have been playing so this week’s prep for me is going to be a pretty big one.
"It is a really different role but it is one I have played a lot of in the past in my career so I should have been better than I was and there are no excuses for that – but at the same time I wasn’t really prepared to play there.
"It was a bit of a shock, and obviously it is not ideal losing one of your star halves in a game, but I was put in there to do a job and I think I was a bit off the pace.
"We have had a few [training] runs with the reserves against the starting side in the halves but nothing in the starting side so I was sort of caught by surprise to go in there I guess.
Holmes concedes Maroons need to lift ‘middle game’
"You do defence for the last two weeks with those four [left] edge guys together and working on how you defend and losing [Munster] out of that, he is obviously a great defender and it definitely hurt us."
Hunt is expecting to start next season at halfback under new St George Illawarra coach Anthony Griffin.
Besides the health of Munster, coach Wayne Bennett must decide whether to make changes and he is expected to have prop Christian Welch available again after missing game two due to a head knock in the Ampol State of Origin series opener in Adelaide.
The top tackles from Origin II
It is likely Welch would replace Dunamis Lui in the starting front row, while winger Phillip Sami could make way for Corey Allan or Brenko Lee.
"We know that we can be a lot better," Hunt said. "We just need to turn up like we did in Adelaide and have that want and desire to win and go after it.
"I think we got a bit frantic when we fell behind by a few points and if you are chasing points you get a bit tense and you do things that you don’t usually try – you stop playing direct and go a bit sideways. I think that is what happened to us. We just sort of lost our way a bit.
"I think it was just the pressure they put on us. [Nathan] Cleary kicked really well and they just kept putting us in bad situations, they got a couple of repeat sets and the amount of defence we did put us on the back foot all night."