Ben Hunt with Darren Lockyer
Ben Hunt with Darren Lockyer Dave Hunt

Lockyer says Ben Hunt has what it takes for Origin

QUEENSLAND great Darren Lockyer believes Ben Hunt has all the skills and a perfect temperament to handle the high demands of playing State of Origin if called up at the last minute to make his debut.

Should the 24-year-old inexperienced Broncos halfback be thrust into the No.7 jumper against NSW in front of a hostile Sydney crowd at ANZ Stadium, it would be the most pressurised debut by a player since an impish blond-haired halfback named Allan Langer played the first of his 34 State of Origins 27 years ago.

Manly's Daly Cherry-Evans will decide after today's captain's run in Sydney whether he makes his own starting debut for injured Storm halfback Cooper Cronk .

If he pulls the pin, Hunt will step up into Origin furnace in a game Queensland must win to send the series into a third game series decider back in Brisbane next month.

When Langer made his debut inside Wally Lewis in 1987 there were many doubters.

It will be the same if Hunt finds himself debuting inside another champion five-eighth in Johnathan Thurston tomorrow night.

While his inexperience having only played half a season at halfback for Brisbane will worry some, Lockyer believes his former Broncos teammate has the perfect temperament required for Origin and is confident he will handle the job if given the opportunity.

"NSW won the first game with two rookie halves, so Queensland can win with one," Lockyer, a veteran of a record 36 Origins, told APN.

"I think if Ben plays he will take it in his stride. He's very composed, not a lot worries him and he doesn't get flustered or frustrated on the field.

"It's a big step up and we shouldn't expect miracle from him in his first Origin but I'd be confident he can get a job done.

Lockyer, always a claming influence on Queensland sides and often a match-winner in the clutch, said Hunt did not have feel he has to be Queensland's saviour or that he had to come up with the big plays every time he touched the ball.

"He just needs to do his job and make sure his kicking game and his running games are spot on.

"He can't go into his shell. He should back himself with his running game and take on the line and make sure when he does, he gets a good kick away.

Lockyer said he always knew Hunt would be a good player after watching him dominate for Brisbane's under-20 side years ago.

"I always held him in high regard because when I used to go to games it was common for the first grade players to watch some of the 20s games and the year he got the player of the year, two guys stood out, Jharal (Yow Yeh) and him.

"Some of the tries he laid on just had great vision and he would score these solo tries with his strength. I knew then he was a player."

Lockyer said whoever filled Cronk's No.7 jumper would be heavily targeted which was always the case in Origin with any player carrying an injury or the inexperienced tag.