Ben Hunt and Damien Cook will square off in the No. 9 jerseys
Ben Hunt and Damien Cook will square off in the No. 9 jerseys

Ennis: Can ‘dangerous’ Hunt get better of Cook?

How do you get the edge over Damien Cook?

How do you stop a Duracell bunny of a player with a sharp mind and even sharper feet?

How do you get the better of the best hooker in the competition when your first, second and third choice rakes are retired or injured?

Those are the questions Queensland coach Kevvie Walters is facing as he prepares his side for Origin I.

The Maroons No. 9 jersey has been up for grabs ever since injuries to Rooster Jake Friend and Broncos Andrew McCullough.

Jake Granville hasn't been picked, nor has Reed Mahoney. Cameron Smith, too, has said his Origin days are over.

Step forward Ben Hunt, who has been the No. 7 in a hit-and-miss Dragons side this season.

He played a starring role from the bench in game three last year, and Michael Ennis believes that he can continue that form into game one of 2019.

"The key for Ben is that he has some variation in his game," says Ennis.

"With the forwards Queensland have got, there's some mobility in the backrow with Felise Kaufusi and Matt Gillett.

"Those two are great at changing angles and have good leg speed, so it's important he uses those guys well.

"Ben's ability to raid down short sides and use his running game is key. I'd like to see him get out of dummy half and kick, and lead the chase.

"When Ben's in that sort of mood he's a very dangerous little player."

There may be concern in some quarters by the fact Hunt has played most of his football in the halves this season.

Defending on an edge is a lot different to getting through a mountain of tackles in a game.

The Blues will identify that as a potential weakness to exploit, but Ennis says the experience of last year's hooking cameo will stand Hunt in good stead.

"I think for Ben, he goes into this Origin with a lot of confidence from playing game three last year when Kevvie Walters removed him from being the starting halfback and put him in that role," adds Ennis.

"I think he'll take a lot of confidence from that and his combination with DCE and Cameron Munster was very good.

"A lot of pressure comes on the game management of them to control the possession and keep his (Hunt's) tackle count down.

"If Queensland can sustain a lot of possession it makes his job a lot easier.

"At the moment he's their best option.

"Given how he played in game three and how well his game suits the dummy half area I think it's the right move by Kevvie.

"No doubt he'll see plenty of traffic, if I'm New South Wales I'd be sending the likes of David Klemmer and Payne Haas at him, making sure he makes 50 tackles on the night."

 

 

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