Rugby Union

Karmichael Hunt on the road to redemption with Australia

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Once described as the 'greatest all-round footballer Australia has produced', it is fair to say Karmichael Hunt always brings something exciting to the table.

The first sportsman to reach elite professional status in three different codes, the former Brisbane Broncos winger has finally achieved the goal he set out for himself in school - to represent the Australia national rugby union team.

Despite his obvious talent, it has been a rocky road to stardom for the Reds' fullback who was charged with possession and 'intent to supply' of cocaine to friends and colleagues earlier this year.

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A young rugby prodigy, Hunt excelled in Rugby League and Union at school boy level as well as playing Australian Rules Football at the weekends. He managed to gain a scholarship to attend rugby-renowned school Churchie, where he played a pivotal role in their 2003 unbeaten season.

Despite his pronounced ability at Union, Hunt made his NRL debut for the Brisbane Broncos at the tender age of 17 and went on to play 125 for the franchise, scoring 53 tries. A quick stint in France followed, as he played 15 times for Biarritz Olympique, before signing to play in the AFL for the Gold Coast Football Club.

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Hunt spent four years playing Australian Rules Football, winning the most improved player award in 2011 and notching up 44 caps. He received mixed reviews for his time in the AFL, however his talent was still there to be seen. The Queensland Reds snapped up his signature as soon as his contract ended at the Gold Coast, bringing him back to Rugby Union and confirming his status as one of the best all-rounders in the game.

Rumours circulated of Hunt taking the number 10 jersey from Quade Cooper on his return to Australian rugby, however he has slotted seamlessly into the number 13 jersey and has been in exceptional form in the Super 15 this year.

Despite his obvious sporting credentials, Hunt was involved in a cocaine scandal in 2015 and was banned from competitive rugby for six weeks in February. The courts found him guilty of possession of the class a drug cocaine, and also 'on-supply' to friends and colleagues dating back to when he was with the Brisbane Broncos. Hunt pleaded guilty, and had to pay a $2500 fine as well as serve his ban.

This controversy has led many to ask the question - should he still be considered for international selection?

England's Manu Tuilagi was recently dropped from their World Cup training squad after he pleaded guilty for a drunken fracas in London. This strict management has left people wondering whether the Australian RFU should follow suit. After all it doesn't create a good example for the young rugby players trying to make it as a pro, seeing one of their idols caught up in a drug scandal and seemingly not being punished for it at the highest level.

On the other hand, some fans are highly supportive of the Australian RFU's treatment of the situation, stating that Hunt has served his ban and learned. The same people are calling for England, amongst others, to consider this when dealing with their own players.

Should an international team’s chances of success be risked by a players mistakes off of the field?

It is an important question, and perhaps this World Cup will provide the answer. Mercurial talent Hunt will be in the Australia squad, and more than likely will face England. This will provide the rugby world with a direct conflict between a team who refuses to pick a player involved with the law, and a team who chooses its players on merit rather than their off-field pursuits.

Either way, Karmichael Hunt is set to have a big tournament.

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Topics:
Rugby Union
Australia Rugby
England Rugby
IRB Rugby World Cup

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