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NRL: Slater names Hunt at hooker

Queensland coach Billy Slater has dropped a surprise by confirming Ben Hunt will start at hooker in game one of State of Origin with Harry Grant having to settle for a place on the bench.

The Maroons are priced at 5/4 to beat New South Wales in the series and Slater has opted to go with the Dragons star in the No.9 jersey.

Slater opts for Hunt

Explaining his decision to opt for Hunt over Grant, Slater believes the Dragons ace deserves to keep the jersey after shining for Queensland in recent years.

He also believes that Grant is not fully fit after battling with injury and sickness. So Slater is in no doubt that Hunt is the man for the job in game one.

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"We feel that Ben Hunt has earned the opportunity to play in the No.9 jersey," Slater said. "He has been the Ron McAuliffe Medallist, which is Queensland's best player, two series out of the last three years, so we feel that he has earnt that opportunity.

"Harry is still getting over his groin injury, we feel that he is going to be OK to play but on top of that he has had the flu the last five days. I think anyone in the game knows the flu has been going around and has knocked some around for up to a week."

Fifita omission

Meanwhile Gold Coast star David Fifita has been left out completely and Queensland selector Darren Lockyer says the form of the Titans has not helped his cause.

"Probably a few of the players that were missed probably have been, I guess, a reflection of the Titans' form. It hasn't been great,” Lockyer added.

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