Walters guarantees Hunt's Maroons spot

Steve Zemek
Despite a tough day at the office, Ben Hunt will hold his spot for Origin III, says Kevin Walters

Queensland coach Kevin Walters says Ben Hunt's spot is safe despite the No.7 coming up with a series of costly brain fades in NSW's State of Origin series-clinching win.

The St George Illawarra playmaker was responsible for a number of key errors during Sunday's 18-14 defeat at ANZ Stadium.

Walters has plenty of options particularly with budding superstar Kalyn Ponga proving capable of playing in the halves after coming on as a roving utility in a slashing 53-minute performance.

Manly's Daly Cherry-Evans has also repeatedly expressed his desire to break back into the Origin arena.

Despite Hunt being pilloried by some, Walters assured him he would be in his side for the July 11 dead rubber at Suncorp Stadium.

"I won't make any decisions around the team, I expect he would be, I don't see any reason why he wouldn't be," Walters said when pressed on whether Hunt would be retained.

After being given the reins and told to take control of the side by Walters, Hunt came up with blunders at crucial times.

When James Maloney poked a ball through the line for a charging Boyd Cordner, the NSW captain collided with Hunt and was awarded just the second penalty try in Origin history and the first since 1981.

The video referees ruled Hunt deliberately took Cordner out with the Blues back-rower certain to score.

It handed the Blues the lead for the first time, which they never surrendered.

Then with 10 minute remaining, NSW were leading by four and down to 12 men after James Roberts was sin-binned.

The Maroons had the Blues pinned down their end and appeared to be closing in for the knock out blow.

However Hunt kicked the ball on the third tackle and it trickled dead, blowing the Maroons' last good scoring opportunity.

"I thought he was really good, Benny," Walters said.

"We've got a lot of respect for Benny and I really admire the way he plays."

Walters admitted his side failed at times to take their opportunities but refused to single Hunt out.

"We gave them a couple of seven tackles," he said.

"It's not easy out there - it's bloody tough for everyone. Our players have to learn from that, the position we were in. It's tough.

"I'm not going to be critical of any one of our players."