Call of duty: Why veteran Hunt can’t say no to Maroons

Joel Gould |

Queensland veteran Ben Hunt (L) and coach Billy Slater share a moment during a training session.
Queensland veteran Ben Hunt (L) and coach Billy Slater share a moment during a training session.

Queensland veteran Ben Hunt says inspirational “call of duty” words by late Maroons Godfather Dick ‘Tosser’ Turner continue to inform his decision to keep playing State of Origin footy.

Former team manager and mentor Turner coined the famous phrase “Queensland expects you to do your duty”, simple but powerful words that sum up the obligation all Maroons players have and those that are embroidered on the collars of their jerseys.

St George Illawarra half Hunt, who plays hooker for the Maroons, doesn’t know when or where he will finish his NRL career. The 34-year-old, with 17 Origin games to his credit, does intend to keep answering coach Billy Slater’s call in the affirmative.

“Tosser’s words definitely drive me,” Hunt said.

“To me it just means that the Queensland team expects you to do your job and not let your teammates down. That’s how I’ve always tried to live my career.

“It’s always just an extremely big honour to pull this jersey on. As long as Billy picks me then I will be grateful to come and play for this great state.

“Some of the best weeks of your life are being in Origin camp and running onto Suncorp to a packed stadium when they roar as you come out. It’s a feeling you are not going to get anywhere else, so why give it up if you still have the opportunity?”

Dick 'Tosser' Turner with Mal Meninga.
The legacy of former Maroons team manager Dick ‘Tosser’ Turner (L) continues to inspire. (HANDOUT/NRL PHOTOS)

If Hunt plays all three games of this series he will receive the FOGS Dick ‘Tosser’ Turner Medal, which all Maroons that notch 20 Origin games receive. He has worn the No.7, No.9 and No.14 and switched to centre once when the side had injuries. Whatever the team needs him to do, he does with glee.

“It doesn’t matter at all. You could put me in the front row for Queensland and I will try and do my best,” he said.

“I will play in any position they give me.”

Hunt is contracted at St George Illawarra until the end of 2025. He did seek a release last year after former coach Anthony Griffin was sacked, which was declined. He has since led the side with distinction under Shane Flanagan but said he had not progressed talks for an extension.

“No, not at the moment. I am trying to focus on a few other things at the Dragons at the moment and get our team going in the right direction,” he said.

“We’re in an Origin period now so that might be on the back burner, but there’s no rush for anything down there. We’ll sort it out.”

Hunt was asked if it was possible he could finish his career at Gold Coast, with whom he was previously linked.

“I am not closing the door on anything at all. At the moment, I’m happy at the Dragons and we’ll work through it,” he said.