Kev stands up Wal­ters de­fies Ben­nett on Hunt

Townsville Bulletin - - SPORT - TRAVIS MEYN PETER BADEL

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.”

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