In the fallout from Ewen McKenzie’s resignation, code hopper Karmichael Hunt has revealed the ex-Wallabies coach convinced him to switch to rugby.
As the Australian Rugby Union counts the cost of Ewen McKenzie’s sensational resignation, Karmichael Hunt has revealed the former Wallabies coach had been the man who convinced him to switch to rugby.
Ex-Brisbane Bronco Hunt has made a seamless transition at the Queensland Reds after ending his 44-game AFL career with the Gold Coast Suns in August.
But Hunt revealed he would not be in Reds colours if it had not been for the man who surprisingly fell on his sword on Saturday night.
Initial contact with Reds coach Richard Graham planted the seed but Hunt said it was a conversation with McKenzie while he was in Wallabies camp on the Gold Coast during the French Test series in June that made the difference.
“I had a really good chat with him. I enjoyed his take on rugby and how he thought the game should be played,” Hunt said.
“We chatted for about an hour in his room.
“That was another reinforcement.
“It made it a little bit easier to come back to rugby having a chat with him.”
Hunt left not only confident of yet another successful code switch but of breaking into McKenzie’s Wallabies program.
“Yeah, he was very positive (about him becoming a Wallaby),” Hunt said.
Hunt may feel for McKenzie but only the second man poised to make the top grade in all three winter codes in Australia says he is sleeping a lot easier since ending his AFL days.
And it seems he is already dreaming of the Wallabies guernsey he thought he’d wear under McKenzie’s reign.
Six weeks of rugby training at the Reds have been enough to convince him that he made the right choice.
Groomed as the Reds’ next fullback, Hunt said the rugby skills he first honed at Brisbane’s Anglican Church Grammar School then reignited at French club Biarritz pre-Suns in 2010 had returned “naturally” at Queensland training.
“I am sleeping a lot easier at night,” Hunt said.
“My head is not as scrambled as my AFL transition.
“You can imagine the stress with trying to learn the game and skills and physically trying to change my body shape to play AFL football.”
Asked about his Wallabies aspirations, Hunt said: “I would be lying if I said I didn’t have plans to play at that top level.
“But it’s not at the forefront of my mind.
“I want to pull on a Queensland Reds jersey and add to their success.
“But I don’t doubt myself with making a transition successfully.”
Hunt may be a new face in a new code – again – but the 27-year-old felt he could play the role of mentor in Graham’s Reds squad.
“I have walked many a path in my career, learned a lot of things, fallen over and got back up,” he said.