Planet Rugby

Code-hopper Hunt on his way to Reds?

24th July 2014 11:47

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Karmichael Hunt AFL Gold Coast Suns 2013

Karmichael Hunt: Set to bolster the Reds' back-line stocks

According to reports in Australia, the Reds have bolstered their back-line stocks for next season by signing code-hopper Karmichael Hunt.

Although an official announcement has been made yet, a report on The Australian website, said the Brisbane-based franchise have paid between $600,000 and 700,000 Australian dollars for the utility back's services.

The Reds reportedly had to compete against NRL clubs Brisbane Broncos, Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs and Gold Coast Titans to bring Hunt, who played 15 matches for French side Biarritz in the 2009/10 season, back to rugby union and the Australian Rugby Union declined to offer him a contract top-up.

27-year-old Hunt, who represented the Australian Schoolboys rugby union side, also had stints in rugby league with the Brisbane Broncos and the AFL with Gold Coast Suns.

The Reds, who finished 13th in this year's Super Rugby tournament, are depending on Hunt and former Wallabies utility back James O'Connor - whose signature is also still to be confirmed - to turn around their fortunes in 2015.

Wallabies boss Ewen McKenzie said he was unaware of the Reds' contract negotiations with Hunt but confirmed that the ARU did not participate in the deal.

"I'm not sure where it is up to," McKenzie told The Australian.

"As far as I'm aware it hasn't involved the ARU. If they have done anything, they have done it themselves."

McKenzie believes Hunt's background in the 15-man code will help him to make a succesful switch but added that his age would make it more difficult.

"He has obviously played multiple sports and been successful, which suggests he is a good sportsperson," said McKenzie, who has coached code-hoppers such as Mat Rogers, Lote Tuqiri, Wendell Sailor, Mark Gasnier and now Israel Folau.

"From memory he has played rugby at schoolboy level and has also played it in Top 14 (France). He has played it a couple of times in his career.

"It's not like he hasn't got any instincts for the game. I think Biarritz did pretty well in the time he was there. He's got instincts that suggest he could make the transition, albeit he is an older guy.

"Most of the issues come from whether there is any understanding of how the game functions and the later you leave that as a player and try to develop those instincts the harder it is.

"Izzy (Folau) is a young guy. He has made the transition. Where his mind is and his patterns of play aren't ingrained because he hasn't been doing it for so long. He is more malleable and willing to learn and be re-coached and redefined. The fact that Hunt has got some background may make that transition easier.

"I've been involved with all of them so they have all made different transitions. Gasnier made a good transition at the same age. Benji Marshall didn't go so well. It depends on the individual and how they think and how coachable they are."

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