Hunte has had a complete knee reconstruction and has played just one A team game since winning his long battle for fitness.
"If Alan was a forward, it would be a risk," Saints' coach, Shaun McRae, said. "As it is, I don't believe it is a risk, or I wouldn't have put him in."
Hunte, the leading try-scorer at Saints for five of his six seasons there, said: "It's a big match to come back in, but I'm confident about the knee." He replaces Joey Hayes, who failed a fitness test on a hamstring injury yesterday morning.
Widnes have also gambled on proven class and experience, naming both the Hulme bothers in their line-up.
Paul Hulme, who has not played since bruising his ribs six weeks ago, has been included in the second row, while David Hulme, out for even longer with a head injury, is one of the two substitutes.
The Widnes coach, Doug Laughton, says that both the Hunt brothers feel fit enough to play in the semi-final at Wigan's Central Park, where their experience of big matches will be of immeasurable value.Reuse content