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Hunt learns from red-faced October night: Surviving and thriving

The true measure of any sportsperson is the ability to cope with adversity, process it, move on and not let it define them.

For Ben Hunt, that career-changing moment arrived on October 4, 2015 when he fumbled the kick-off in extra-time of the grand final and two minutes later the Cowboys were victors, the Broncos were vanquished and the halfback was cast as the villain.

No amount of consoling from his teammates could ease Hunt's pain as he tried to come to grips with the fact his error had handed North Queensland a golden chance in golden point and Johnathan Thurston had nailed it.

Never mind the fact Hunt and his playmaking partner Anthony Milford had been pivotal in giving Brisbane a 16-12 lead with 20 seconds to play and so close to the club's seventh premiership they could taste the XXXX on ice in the change rooms.

Then Michael Morgan conjured a flick pass for the ages, Kyle Feldt scored, JT missed, Feldt kicked off, Hunt spilt it, JT didn't miss... game over.

Hunt goes himself and QLD wrestle back the lead

Mark down the 2015 decider as the night that could have defined and destroyed Hunt, then 25 years old and 140 games into his NRL career.

Would he go to water every time the pressure was cranked up in a big game?

Would he hand the responsibility to others around him and hope he could blend into the background?

Or would he own his moment and use it as motivation?

Hook marvels at Hunt’s ‘best’ form

After watching Hunt - now 31 and 264 Telstra Premiership games into his career - spark the Maroons to a face-saving win in Origin III on Wednesday it's clear he chose option three and has learned plenty from that experience and has survived and thrived at the elite level.

Hunt's 11th Origin appearance was far and away his best in maroon and the decision to move him to hooker proved a masterstroke.

Having been overlooked for game one and then playing 46 minutes off the bench in game two, he got his chance at the expense of Dragons teammate Andrew McCullough and made every minute count.

Hunt used his strength close to the line to snare his first Origin try and his speed to double his career tally seven minutes later, as well as coming up with three tackle breaks and 44 tackles in a polished display that played a huge part in Queensland avoiding the ignominy of a sweep.

Of his 11 Origins, four have been at hooker, two at halfback and five from the bench, which is where he'll most likely find himself next year when Harry Grant is back on deck for Queensland.

Hunt's versatility and maturity make him the ideal man to wear the No.14 jersey in the Ampol State of Origin cauldron but as he proved at Cbus Super Stadium on Wednesday he is more than capable of going on from the start and going the distance.

Sea Eagles v Dragons - Round 18

Long before he turns his attention to another Origin series, Hunt has a more immediate mission as skipper of a St George Illawarra side which desperately needs his leadership qualities and resilience in light of their recent dramas.

With a big pay packet comes even greater responsibility and the skipper needs to galvanise his troops on and off the field if they are to stay inside the eight and get another crack at the finals after two years on the outer.

On the strength of his dominant Origin display a case could be made for Hunt to move to hooker and ignite the Red V out of dummy half, as well as plugging up the middle of the ruck with his rock-solid defence.

Origin wash-up: Blues blunder gives Maroons renewed belief

Just as he kept the Blues on their toes on the Gold Coast, so too could Hunt threaten tiring forwards and keep the Dragons on the front foot, leaving Corey Norman and Adam Clune to orchestrate in the halves.

It's a scenario Griffin may well consider as he searches for the formula to ensure they can compete with heavyweights like Penrith and Souths in the run home, and take care of sides below them on the ladder like the Titans, Cowboys and Raiders.

If the Red V can hang onto their place in the eight and be part of the September action it will be quite an achievement given the upheaval of the past fortnight and the amount of changes they'll be forced to make while players serve their bans for biosecurity breaches.

Driving the standards off the field will be the straight shooter Griffin, who'll make no excuses if they come up short and keep a lid on it if they stand tall.

On the field, the Dragons have the perfect leader in Hunt - a man who who knows a thing or two about staring down adversity and coming out the other side stronger for the experience.

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