Queensland coach Wayne Bennett has wielded the axe on Ben Hunt with rookie sensation Harry Grant coming in for the 2020 State of Origin decider.
After being thrashed 34-10 in the equal fourth biggest win by NSW in Origin history, Bennett has stuck relatively solid but the Dragons halfback/hooker has dropped off the bench and onto the reserves list.
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Cameron Munster has been deemed to have overcome his concussion after leaving the field due to a concussion two minutes into the game, while Corey Allan is set to start on the wing to replace Phillip Sami, who was dropped from the 21-man squad, with Christian Welch returning at prop, pushing Raiders forward Dunamis Lui to the bench.
Moeaki Fotuaika drops back to the reserves list.
NSW are sticking solid with the 17 that won in game two, while Ryan Papenhuyzen, Jarome Luai, Cameron McInnes and Nick Cotric on the reserves list.
The only concern for NSW appears to be Josh Addo-Carr, who had a toe injury.
“It’s like a jarred finger but on my toe,” he said. ”It just got caught in an awkward tackle. One of the Queensland boys just landed on my foot. I should be sweet to play it’s just swollen a bit. It should be alright.”
But Hunt, who played 78 minutes of the game after Munster came off the park, has been dropped from the Maroons bench in favour of NRL rookie of the year and Cameron Smith understudy Harry Grant.
Grant was one of the finds of the season after his loan deal with the Wests Tigers, with many tipping him to be the future long-term Queensland hooker.
Hunt had six runs for 34m, 17 tackles but three misses as well as a handling error in a less than impressive performance as NSW ran away with the victory.
Maroons fullback Valentine Holmes said Hunt “did a great job filling in” for Munster as the Dragons star had expected to play as a roving lock.
Hunt spoke to the media before the 21-man squad was announced admitting Bennett told the players to move on quickly before the third match in three weeks at Suncorp Stadium on Wednesday.
“He touched on having a think about what you did in this game and then leaving it behind. He really wants us to move on pretty quick,” Hunt said.
“He said he knows that we‘re a better team than what we offered there and we need to leave that one behind us and be better in Brisbane. We need to prepare harder this week and we‘ll be right to go.”
Hunt has had a tough year, heavily criticised for his performance in the under performing Dragons side early in the year when the $1.2 million halfback became a bench player before playing most of the back half of the year at hooker.
1. Valentine Holmes, 2. Xavier Coates, 3. Kurt Capewell, 4. Dane Gagai, 5. Corey Allan, 6. Cameron Munster, 7. Daly Cherry-Evans, 8. Christian Welch, 9. Jake Friend, 10. Josh Papalii, 11. Felise Kaufusi, 12. Jaydn Su’A, 13. Tino Fa’asuamaleaui
Interchange: 14. Harry Grant, 15. Lindsay Collins, 16. Jai Arrow, 17. Dunamis Lui
Reserves: 18. Ben Hunt, 19. Edrick Lee, 20. Moeaki Fotuaika, 21. Brenko Lee
1. James Tedesco (C), 2. Daniel Tupou, 3. Clinton Gutherson, 4. Jack Wighton, 5. Josh Addo-Carr, 6. Cody Walker, 7. Nathan Cleary, 8. Daniel Saifiti, 9. Damien Cook, 10. Payne Haas, 11. Angus Crichton, 12. Tyson Frizell, 13. Jake Trbojevic
Interchange: 14. Dale Finucane, 15. Junior Paulo, 16. Nathan Brown, 17. Isaah Yeo
Reserves: 18. Ryan Papenhuyzen, 19. Jarome Luai, 20. Cameron McInnes, 21. Nick Cotric
Referee: Gerard Sutton, Touch Judge: Chris Butler, Todd Smith, Senior Review Official: Steve Chiddy