Queensland hooker, Ben Hunt has expressed that the Blues have lost “a little bit of star power” due to Latrell Mitchell being ruled out of the first State of Origin game. The Souths player was expected to play an instrumental role against the Maroons, but an injury at the team’s final training session in Sydney has forced him out of the match. Mitchell will be missing out on the game after sitting out due to a hamstring injury during the 2022 series where Queensland won the decider to take back the shield.
Despite Mitchell’s absence on the field, Hunt believes that the Blues have plenty of other players who can perform well. Hunt has been preparing with his team, focusing on their strategies with the Maroons throughout, planning and executing the game plan. However, he did acknowledge that Mitchell brought a lot of strike power to their left edge and his absence takes a bit of shine out of the Blues’ tactics. Fans of the Blues are now hoping that Panthers star Stephen Crichton will be successful as he fills in at left centre.
Hunt also dismissed all suggestions that Mitchell could make a return back and discussed the responsibilities of Crichton, who he feels is capable of executing important moves in the game.
He did not want to delve into the Blues’ camp drama and instead, focused on backing up what his side did during the previous year, implying that the Maroons want to continue playing with the same winning momentum.
Hunt’s expertise and flexibility position him well, playing wherever needed throughout his fifteen Origin appearances. Despite the changes in the formation of the team and playing different roles, he reported that the team does not classify their players as starters or bench players. Hunt confirmed that he would be starting the game as the Maroons veteran. The anticipation for the State of Origin game is high, with both sides striving to outdo each other, and with Hunt’s focus and determination, the pressure is higher on the Blues to step up.