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Maroons hero Ben Hunt has described Wednesday night’s series win at Suncorp Stadium as the highlight of his career, as team-mates lauded him for his contribution to Queensland’s Origin resurgence.

Hunt produced a second half 40:20 kick that Blues coach Brad Fittler described as a significant turning point in his side’s 22-12 defeat and scored the winning try when he caught a Nathan Cleary chip kick and raced 70 metres to score in the 78th minute.

However, team-mates were in awe of the star playmaker’s ability to play 74 minutes in the middle due to the loss of Lindsay Collins and Selwyn Cobbo in the early exchanges, with Hunt spending just the opening 19 minutes and final nine minutes at hooker.

Hunt wins Origin for Queensland

The two-times Ron McAuliffe Medallist, as Queensland’s player of the series in 2019 and 2021, made 37 tackles and ran 138 metres in 13 carries of the ball, which included three hit-ups.

“I feel like I have played in a lot of great games before but, personally, that is up there,” Hunt said. “It is definitely up the top, it is a special win. This whole series has been awesome, and it has been one I am always going to remember.”

As he waited for a flight at Brisbane airport on Thursday morning with wife Bridget and their two sons, Hunt was mobbed by fans wanting to congratulate him and according to team-mates it is the type of recognition he deserves.

“I am just very privileged to be able to chuck on the same jersey as him,” Maroons centre Dane Gagai said.

“If you go back over the last couple of years [in Origin], with all of the big moments, he is usually there. Going one-on-one in the middle with Junior Paulo, he might have got bounced a few times but what he does for this team is unbelievable.”

A Hunt speciality in Origin

Queensland captain and halfback Daly Cherry-Evans said he and Hunt had become good friends from playing together and he had developed into one of the Maroons leaders after coming into the team as a bench utility in 2017.

“I’ve leant on him a heap of times in this series and that probably shows where he’s at with his footy,” Cherry-Evans said.

“He’s a big part of the Queensland team at the moment and I’m really proud of the way he’s played.”

Despite playing halfback on a weekly basis for the Dragons, Hunt has effectively made the Queensland No.9 jersey his own and his versatility is expected to win him a seat on the plane to England for the end-of-season World Cup.

Hunt celebrates Queensland's series win
Hunt celebrates Queensland's series win ©Grant Trouville/NRL Photos

Since the retirement of Maroons greats Cameron Smith, Billy Slater, Johnathan Thurston, Cooper Cronk and Greg Inglis, Queensland have won two of the last three series as Origin is again an evenly contested affair.   

“Origin is alive and well," Hunt said. "The last five years it has been chopping and changing, and I think it has been amazing. It is good for our game.

"NSW have got a great side and we have got a great side, so there is going to be some good footy for years to come.

“We thought that we got dominated over in Perth, that they were a lot of more physical than us and did a job on us.

"We worked hard and talked all week about how we wanted to come out and be very physical and our middles did that.

“Playing at home, with the passion and the pride that Queenslanders have, we were going to give it everything, and I am sure the Blues did too but we were the lucky ones."


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