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Honours for key pair as Maroons look ahead to new series

Queensland coach Kevin Walters has revealed the characteristics and key moments that elevated Ben Hunt and Cameron Munster to the Queensland Maroons prestigious honours’ list.

After playing leading roles for the Maroons throughout the 2019 series, the efforts of both Hunt and Munster have now been officially acknowledged by the Maroons inner sanctum.

Hunt was the recipient of the Ron McAuliffe Medal, while Munster took out the FOGS Peter Jackson Memorial Award.

These awards were to be presented at the Origin squad’s camp in January, but with Hunt unable to attend due to injury, Walters opted to put it off until the group got back together again at the start of this year’s series . 

COVID-19 scuppered those plans as well, with the 2020 series delayed until November.

However, Walters is not sitting on the news any longer, and took great joy in contacting both players this week to inform them of their individual accolades.

He said he was “really happy” for Hunt, who was voted the players’ player to land the team’s most coveted award.

Ben Hunter. Photo: NRL Images
Ben Hunter. Photo: NRL Images

“To be playing halfback and then come into the nine jumper, we weren’t sure how long he was going to last through the game in the middle,” Walters said.

“But to his credit, he knocked out three full games and I could see by the end of the series that he was gone, body and mind.

“He threw everything into it and I’m very pleased he won the Ron McAuliffe Medal because he was certainly in our top two or three players in every game.

“He really did (rise to the occasion), particularly that tackle he did on Payne Haas here in Game I, where he’s giving away about 40 kilograms, and he just threw himself at him, which is what he did continuously for the three games.”

Walters also spoke glowingly about the contribution of Munster, who coaching staff felt was the standout choice for an award that has historically celebrated “Queensland spirit”.

Cameron Munster. Photo: NRL Images
Cameron Munster. Photo: NRL Images

“I just think he epitomised everything about Queensland,” Walters said of the Storm playmaker.

“He played in the halves, and then he went back to fullback and he was always willing to give his best, so to me that’s right up there with the spirit that Peter Jackson gave to Queensland.”

Walters was a close friend of Jackson’s and he can see some similarities between Munster and the late Maroons legend who played 16 games for Queensland from 1986-92.

“You often find players at the top of end of our sport have a different personality and character to others and that’s what makes them great,” Walters said.

“Cameron is that easy-going likeable person, but certainly when he pulls that maroon jersey on and runs across that white line, he gives nothing but his best for Queensland.”