Maroons halfback Ben Hunt has opened up on the brain snap that cost his side a chance of a comeback in Origin game two.
The maligned halfback had an opportunity to exploit a weakness in the Blues’ defence with around 10 minutes left in the game.
However, on third tackle, Ben Hunt kicked the ball dead, giving NSW a seven tackle set and taking the pressure completely off.
From there, Hunt failed to attack the weak left side of the Blues, and NSW survived a scary final few minutes.
Now, Hunt has copped some of the criticism he has received on the chin, telling Big League “I was to blame”.
“We failed to get through our sets, and I was to blame for one of the kicks that handed the Blues a crucial seven-tackle set,” Hunt said.
“I wanted to keep building pressure on them down that end of the field. I saw James Tedesco was over on the long side so I thought there was an opportunity to sneak one in behind them and get a try or get a repeat set, but I kicked the ball too hard.
“I saw the fullback was out of position and I took an opportunity — unfortunately it didn’t come off. It was a huge play in the game, when we needed to turn it around and take control.
“I kicked it dead, they came out of trouble pretty easily and that was because of me.”
Queensland legend Johnathan Thurston has slammed the late game tactics of Hunt and the Maroons after the Origin clash.
In shades of Andrew Johns’ ‘dumb football’ rant of 2017, JT let rip, clearly frustrated by watching Queensland’s strategy fall apart from a distance.
Thurston particularly took aim at Queensland’s approach to the final ten minutes of the match, with the game in the balance at 18-14 and James Roberts in the sin bin.
“I’m a little bit dumbfounded by the way the Queenslanders played with 12 men on the field,” Thurston told Channel 9.
“A centre (Roberts) going off for 10 minutes, I don’t think they targeted that edge much.
“The first set that they had Ben Hunt kick it dead (for a) 20m restart. That’s a brain explosion on the third tackle.
“Like Joey (Johns) said last year, it was dumb footy.”
Thurston certainly wasn’t alone in his criticism of Hunt, with many calling for the maligned halfback to be dropped for game three, considering his lack of form in big games.
“Are you serious? Third tackle …” Paul Vautin said of Ben Hunt’s kick on Channel 9.
“That kick from Ben Hunt at the other end of the field that put the ball dead on the third tackle could be the biggest play of the game,” Peter Sterling added.
Hunt made further headlines in the aftermath of game two, declaring Boyd Cordner had run into him before NSW were awarded their penalty try.
“It’s hard to say he would have got there, I’m not too sure,” Hunt told AAP.
“I thought I was just standing my ground to make a tackle and he ran straight into me.
“That’s what the officials said. They make the decisions and we have to live with it.”