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George Clarke

Maroons power Meninga's will to thrill

Queensland's Harry Grant (pic) and Ben Hunt will look to repeat their Origin form in the World Cup. (Dave Hunt/AAP PHOTOS) (AAP)

If Mal Meninga seals a third-straight Rugby League World Cup title for Australia in England over the next six weeks he ought to thank Billy Slater for the inspiration.

The Kangaroos begin their defence of the World Cup on Sunday (AEDT) against Fiji at Headingley in Leeds, with Slater's State of Origin tactics providing a blueprint for how Meninga's squad will look to attack.

In his first year as Maroons coach Slater, who played in eight Origin series under Meninga, deployed two hookers which allowed Queensland to unleash a fast and spontaneous style.

Ben Hunt would start, taking the sting out of the game early before Harry Grant came on and weaved his magic.

"I was really happy with the way they were utilised (in Origin) and it would have been pretty hard to leave them out," the Kangaroos coach told AAP.

"They did extremely well for the Maroons and we've also got Reuben Cotter who can back up there.

"Having Benny also gives us flexibility, because we know if someone else in our spine goes down he can cover us there."

Queensland's rapid ruck was so good it forced NSW into attempting to copy it and Meninga hopes by reuniting the one-two punch of Grant and Hunt, Australia can be on the front foot from the word go.

Hunt has enjoyed one of his best seasons as a halfback at St George Illawarra - finishing third in the race for the Dally M medal.

His on-field chemistry with Grant cost the incumbent Australia Test No.9 Damien Cook his spot on the plane to England.

"It's a pretty straightforward role for me, whether I'm starting or coming off the bench," Hunt told AAP.

"Every time I see Mal he says to me, 'Make sure you've got the shoulder pads and you're ready to tackle'."

Hunt might need them in Australia's opening game against Fiji, who fielded an understrength side when they were smashed 50-0 by tournament hosts England in a friendly match last week.

With the likes of Maika Sivo and Hunt's Dragons teammate Mikaele Ravalawa returning the ball from the backfield, Fiji promise to be a handful.

"I've got to stay out of (Ravalawa's) way, that's for sure," Hunt said.

"There's a couple of big boys like that who bring the ball back hard so I am really going to have to hope Mika stays on his wing.

"In a way, we kind of got the experience playing against Papua New Guinea in the Prime Minister's XIII game.

"We know what it takes to stop those big guys getting a roll on and we will have to stand up to them defensively."

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