• Ben Hunt has been called up to play in Origin Game III (AAP)Source: AAP
Former rugby league star Owen Craigie says it’s great to see NRL teams getting out and involved in NAIDOC week celebrations, and Queensland selecting Ben Hunt for State of Origin has shades of Allan ‘Alfie’ Langer about it.
By
Owen Craigie

Source:
Over the Black Dot
5 Jul 2017 - 2:08 PM  UPDATED 5 Jul 2017 - 2:08 PM

State of Origin is there to be won and Queensland selecting Ben Hunt, It’s got a bit of a smell about it like when Alfie Langer went and played with Warrington and they lost the first game and the Origin series was on the line, so they flew Alfie Langer back to Australia to play in the Origin and end up winning.

I’ll come back to this soon, but firstly, it’s NAIDOC Week this week and if you’re out and about in the community, make sure you go out and participate and get involved in the community and learn about NAIDOC.

Every little bit helps because if you look at the Close The Gap report eight weeks ago the figures come back that we’re actually going backwards.

This year it’s all about saving our language and Aboriginal people. But a lot of our rugby league players are going out right across the country and attending community days which is great to see. And I know this Friday in Redfern’s a massive day so a lot of the Rabbitohs and Roosters players and a few other clubs will be attending that one as well.

It’s important that there’s rugby league players and Aboriginal role models attend these days because all these young Aboriginal kids, they’ve got it to aspire to in the future and they all love their footy and it’s just a great mix of celebrating NAIDOC and getting to see your superstars as well.

Sport has the power to bring people together and the NRL’s efforts show this, and NAIDOC week goes a bit deeper than your ‘Close The Gap’ round or your Indigenous All Stars because we get a full week of celebrating NAIDOC. So we’re celebrating the fact that a lot of our young kids are now starting to learn language and staring to learn cultural dances and are participating in a lot of cultural activities and it’s really important for the next generation because without your identity, you’re no one.

Every little bit helps because if you look at the Close The Gap report eight weeks ago the figures come back that we’re actually going backwards. So NAIDOC week is really important for all Aboriginal people to participate in so we can educate the next generation but also participate in something that we can have ownership on and that’s our culture, that’s our history, that’s our language and that’s our dancing and all things like that.

Now, as I was saying about Ben Hunt and with Queensland, it doesn’t surprise me anything that they really do. But it just goes to show that different coaches have different values and different thoughts on different players. Like Wayne Bennett thinks he’s a reserve grader and then Kevie Walters thinks he should be startin for Queensland.

There are always people knocking you in rugby league and that’s 90 per cent of your makeup in this sport; even though you’re in a team sport you still feel like you’re playing a bit of an individual sport anyway. You still need to be ready, you need to be fit, you need to be strong, you need to be fast, you need to be eating right, sleeping right. But the biggest thing you need to prepare yourself is mentally. Pushing your body through barriers it hasn’t been before.

It’s just part and parcel of the game.

The tall poppy syndrome in Australia, they then like to kick you when you’re down and when you’ve fallen and Ben Hunt and all other sports people out there, you’ve just gotta build strong resilience within yourself to overcome these obstacles because once ya get immune to all these knocks and people baggin ya and runnin ya down, you just become a stronger footballer anyway. It’s just part and parcel of the game.

Game three can go any way, to be quite honest, but going back to Queensland and it’s hard to beat a Queensland team in Queensland but NSW have done it in game one.

Really I can’t pick it. I honestly can’t pick it but the positive out of all this is that it’s one-all and it can go any way. But I’m sure we’re going to be strapped in for a big game.

All eyes are gonna be on Ben Hunt. like I’ve said before, it’s like Michael Jordan or a LeBron James in an NBA game: all eyes are on someone to turn this game into something.

And this is the beauty about rugby league – its one-all in the Origin series. They’re bringing a guy up from reserve grade Ben Hunt who just signed a deal with the Dragons for five years – a million dollars a year.

All eyes are gonna be on Ben Hunt. like I’ve said before, it’s like Michael Jordan or a LeBron James in an NBA game: all eyes are on someone to turn this game into something.

Ben Hunt, he could shine and turn his career round in a massive way if he comes out and wins the game for them because what I saw the other night when he played for the Broncos with his running game and scoring tries – he’s back.

After making that error in the grand final a couple of years ago, how special an opportunity for Hunt. In Queensland, the Origin series is on the line, he’s come up from reserve grade; the whole of Queensland knows he’s going down south to the Dragons – all eyes on Ben Hunt.

If he shines and turns it around, they’ll be tellin stories about his journey back to Origin and how he turned his career around because that’s what Queensland do. They love their rugby league and if this guy does it, and I’m quite sure he can, we’re gonna be in for a massive game.

To hear more from Owen Craigie and for all of your rugby league news, tune in to Over the Black Dot on NITV at 9.30pm each Wednesday, or On Demand.