Hunt faces punt after brain explosions
BEN Hunt's position in the Queensland Origin side will be scrutinised after a series of brain explosions contributed to the Maroons' first series loss since 2014.
Queensland went into the match at ANZ Stadium as underdogs but for once they could not produce a miracle win.
It was not a disaster. It was a valiant effort without the likes of Cameron Smith, Cooper Cronk, Johnathan Thurston, Matt Scott and an injured Matt Gillett.
Without those names, it was never going to be easy for Queensland to deliver in the way they have in the past.
But that does not mean they can go into the dead rubber in Brisbane without looking at their options within the side.
This period is about trialling the next generation for the Maroons so it is a chance for coach Kevin Walters to give some other guys a chance to prove they could be part of Queensland's future.
Everyone knows it wasn't going to be easy to fill Cronk's shoes. But it's not an excuse either.
Walters wants Hunt to be his long-term halfback, but do others at least deserve a shot to show the Queensland mentor what they could bring to the team?
Daly Cherry-Evans is only a year older than Hunt while Titans young gun Ash Taylor could provide a bit of spark.
Kalyn Ponga could also easily slot into the halves after a strong debut.
Hunt will be the first to admit his Game Two performance was not good enough.
He vowed to take ownership of the team but struggled to do so, with some poor decision-making proving costly.
Queensland had the perfect chance to equal the game with 10 minutes left on the clock.
Blues centre James Roberts had just been sin-binned and the Maroons were in striking distance until Hunt decided to put through a grubber midway through the set.
The kick went straight out with no chasers even close to the ball and NSW marched their way back downfield.
It was an error-riddled night for Hunt, who also contributed to the Blues' penalty try right before halftime by taking out Boyd Cordner in the chase for a James Maloney kick.
But Walters defended his playmaker and said he expects he will stick with Hunt for Game Three.
"It's not easy out there … It's bloody tough for everyone," he said.
"I'm not going to be critical of anyone in our side.
"I thought he was really good, Benny. I admire the way he plays. The penalty try … that was a tough one. Everyone kicks balls dead.
"I'm not going to blame Ben for the loss. We love what he brings.
"I won't make any decisions around the team but I don't see any reason why he wouldn't be (the halfback)."
In the 2003 series, a young Cameron Smith made his debut in the Origin III dead rubber and Queensland went on to win that final match.
Walters does not need to make extreme changes, but what Queensland does need to consider is whether some experimentation would hurt.
It might be a tough task to move on some of the current players, but it's not saying their time in the Origin arena is done.
It's just a chance for someone else to prove their worth in this time of change.