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Smith backs Hunt as Maroons Origin hooker

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(AAP Image/Craig Golding) 

The latest Queensland injury setback hasn't changed Cameron Smith's mind about a State of Origin return with the former skipper backing St George Illawarra's Ben Hunt to wear the No.9 jersey.

Brisbane rake Andrew McCullough is the latest casualty, suffering a serious knee injury, to join Sydney Roosters hooker Jake Friend (biceps) on the sidelines.

Smith is confident that Hunt could do the job.

"I've seen Ben play that role before and he does a really good job playing No.9, even though he plays halfback for his club," Smith said on Wednesday.

Melbourne Storm captain Smith said it depended on the fitness of first-choice halfback Daly Cherry-Evans, who has an ankle injury, as Hunt could be needed to play No.7.

Despite the injury crisis coming on top of a swag of representative retirements of stars Johnathan Thurston, Billy Slater, Cooper Cronk and Greg Inglis, Smith again stated he had no plans to answer a possible SOS call.

"It hasn't changed since last year when I made a decision to step away," Smith said.

The 35-year-old, who made played a record 42 Origin games, said the Maroons might have to suffer some short-term pain for long-term gain.

"It's not an ideal situation for Queensland with so many of their players injured but they will find someone," Smith said.

"There was a time when I first started out in Origin that there was an influx of young players and results weren't great for Queensland at the time but we turned things around and ended up winning eight series in a row.

"But it took a couple of years of heartache to turn that around and maybe that's the situation for Queensland at the moment.

"But I'm confident that we'll find players this year, next year that will go out and perform well for Queensland."

As well as ruling out a return to playing, Smith said he couldn't be available to the Maroons as a coach due to his Storm commitments.

"If Kev (coach Kevin Walters) was to ring me and ask any advice on game plans or any players I'd give him my opinion but as far as having any direct involvement it's pretty hard with the Storm and the competition still running," he said.

© AAP 2019