Hannant the man to take over up front - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Hannant the man to take over up front

By Wayne Heming 22/06/2009 07:32:13 PM Comments (0)

The two men charged with ensuring Queensland's "Hollywood" backline fires in State of Origin II on Wednesday night believe the best prop in the game is not starting.

Petero Civoniceva (24 Origins) and Steve Price (26 Origins) agree 24-year-old bench front-rower Ben Hannant is marking time before a long-term starting role for the Maroons.

Hannant, who's played four Origins, is too respectful to talk himself up ahead of two such highly decorated Origin warriors.

It's a great situation for coach Mal Meninga and for Queensland, who a few years ago feared they may be caught out when one or both their veteran warhorses called it quits.

Hannant, the first rugby league player diagnosed with swine flu after the Melbourne Origin, made nine hit ups and 32 tackles in 39 minutes in that game - an outstanding contribution off the bench.

"I love playing with these guys," says Hannant, almost in awe of his two teammates.

"I'm going to be able to look back and say I got to play with Pricey and Petero who are the best front-rowers playing the game at the moment."

When told Price had nominated him as the best prop currently playing, Hannant laughed and said: "Oh please ... he's kidding himself."

Hannant's respect for Civoniceva and Price is as easy to spot as his charges into the defence.

He wants to start and when the chance comes, he'll jump at it.

But for now, he accepts his place.

"Pet and Pricey are playing the best football of their careers," he said.

"They're fitter and stronger, they deserve their spots as long as they keep doing what they're doing."

Hannant chuckles when reminded of comments prior to the first game by NSW selector Laurie Daley suggesting Civoniceva was past Origin.

"He's kidding himself," Hannant told AAP.

"Look at the team he's picking, look at the team Queensland have been picking - who's getting the job done?

"They can say whatever they like but our big boys and our senior boys are standing up and making them look stupid."

Price, who claimed Kevin Walters' record playing the first 12 of his 26 Origins off the bench, knows about waiting.

It's something he doesn't believe Hannant will do much longer.

In fact, should Queensland get rolled at ANZ Stadium on Wednesday night, he expects either he or his bookend prop partner to surrender their starting spot to the young Bulldogs forward for the series decider in Brisbane.

"This year more than any other there's been more pressure on us to keep our spots," said the 35-year-old Price, no stranger to the pain and disappointment of Origin after being forced to fight hard to reclaim his prized Maroon jumper.

"I've been really impressed by Benny.

"Last year he got a taste of Origin at the Broncos.

"When he went to the Bulldogs everyone was wondering how he'd go and he's their go-to man and probably the form front-rower in the comp."

"He's busting his arse on the training paddock and doing everything possible to be a starter.

"He'll get that chance and, when he does, he's not going to let anyone down.

"Hopefully, though, it's not for a couple of games yet."

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