Kev stands up Walters defies Bennett on Hunt
MAROONS coach Kevin Walters has hit back at Wayne Bennett’s axing of Ben Hunt and claimed Queensland’s latest super sub will thrive in the Origin arena.
Hunt was a controversial selection for Wednesday’s State of Origin decider after being picked ahead of in- form Manly playmaker Daly Cherry- Evans.
Cherry- Evans, a six- game Maroons representative, could have done no more to secure an Origin recall but Walters has instead looked to the Broncos halfback for a bench berth.
Hunt, who will join St George- Illawarra next year, was last month dropped to reserve grade by Broncos coach Bennett.
Bennett claimed Hunt had not been running the ball enough and needed to find form with the Ipswich Jets.
Tensions between Walters and Bennett surfaced in the lead- up to this year’s Origin series when the super coach threatened to not release Broncos five- eighth Anthony Milford to the Maroons.
And Walters, a former assistant coach of Bennett, last night came out swinging in defence of Hunt.
“No I didn’t agree with Wayne about that but Wayne is coaching him,” he said.
“That was Wayne’s call. Maybe it was good for Ben. He’s moved on.
“We had him in the ( Origin) camp a week later. It didn’t bother us what he was doing or where he was playing.
“I love what Ben brings to the footy team.
“From the bench he’s got a really specific role.
“It’s a very important role but he just has to run hard and make his tackles.”
Hunt, 27, played one game in the Intrust Super Cup before being recalled to the NRL by Bennett.
Walters invited him into Camp Maroon before Game Two to get a feel for the Queensland system and he earned his decider debut following Michael Morgan’s elevation to the starting side.
“To be honest, I didn’t really think I was that far off the pace,” Hunt said.
“When Wayne told me ( I had been dropped), I didn’t think there wasn’t much I could do other than go back and play some good football.
“When I went back to QCup, I talked to Kevvie and he still had a lot of belief in me.
“It’s been a pretty crazy ride, some ups and downs and I’ve had the highs and lows of footy.”