Rejuvenated Karmichael looking to make Reds No.15 his own
By Sam Ryan
Karmichael Hunt is the first to admit 2015 didn’t quite go to plan for him or the Reds and he has no one but himself to blame for much of that.
After missing the start of the Super Rugby season through suspension, Hunt and the star-studded Reds backline failed to live up to expectations, finishing the year with just four wins from 16 matches.
“It was a tough year mate and I think that was a reflection of what was going on off the field. With everything happening it was difficult to concentrate on footy, but that’s in the past now,” he told Rugby News.
“Our off season started off strong and we had a bit of time on the paddock with all the starters available and training together but then Quade got injured, I got suspended and James (O’Connor) was in and out with injuries throughout the year.
“We never had a period of time where we could get combinations together to create some continuity within the side,” he added.
Despite that, Hunt has put a disappointing Super Rugby season behind him and is looking to make the Reds fullback jersey his own for next season, through strong performances with Brisbane City in the NRC.
“The NRC has been a really pleasing end to the season because it’s just allowed me to take a step back from the year I’ve had and just play some footy, so that’s been great,” he said.
After claiming the inaugural premiership last year, Brisbane City picked up exactly where they left off and are yet to be beaten four rounds into the competition.
The reigning premiers have averaged 43 points a match so far this season, with Hunt admitting he is loving his time playing in Australia’s third tier competition.
“I’ve really enjoyed training and playing alongside the non-contracted guys, they come to training after work and just really enjoy being there and that takes it back to the nuts and bolts of why we play football and that’s to have fun. So it’s been nice to connect back to that type of footy.”
Hunt started his first NRC match at fullback in his sides 55-29 victory over the North Harbour Rays last week and will get another chance at the back against NSW Country at Ballymore on Sunday.
“I played there a bit through the Super Rugby season this year but the way they had me playing didn’t suit me. It was a very fixed position for me during the Super season, I was told to be hanging out wide whereas, I’d prefer to get involved and get plenty of touches and try and create something,” he said.
Backs coach Rob Seib has given Hunt a license to roam against the Eagles, with the former Bronco telling Rugby News that he styles his play on that of a rugby league fullback and would like to continue to do so for the Reds next year.
“If I can roam and freely move around the field to try and create, then fullback is definitely the position I want to play,” he said.
“That style is fairly second nature for me after my time at the Broncos and that’s the way I’ve been told to play in the NRC. Speaking to Daniel Herbert (Reds GM) and Seiby (Rod Seib, Brisbane City backs coach), that’s the way they think a fullback should play.”
Despite that and the Broncos recent success, Hunt said he has no immediate plans to return to the 13-man game.
“I’m loving being back in rugby. Personally, it was such a hard year for me emotionally and away from the field, but whenever I was at training and with my teammates I was really enjoying it.”
After the year he had, the 28-year old admitted he hadn’t done enough to warrant Wallaby selection for this year’s World Cup, but said he hadn’t lost hope of playing rugby at the highest level.
“I want to play Test footy at some point and I’ll work my butt off to get there.”
“Obviously, it’s not my time just yet but I’ll continue to strive to be as good as I can be and obviously the pinnacle is playing for the Wallabies so hopefully one day I can get there. “