Cheika had no hesitation over Karmichael Hunt

Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

Michael Cheika didn’t think twice about including Karmichael Hunt in his Wallabies squad.

At the announcement of the Wallabies 39-man squad last week Hunt expressed his gratitude for the faith Cheika showed in him during a turbulent first season.

When many were calling for Hunt’s head, Cheika stuck by Hunt, offering some advice to help him get through the difficult time.

The Wallabies coach said he didn’t do anything remarkable for Hunt, rather just treated him like anyone else.

“I just told the truth,” he said.

“Things go wrong sometimes. Forgiveness is also a very Christian value too.

“He acknowledged he made a mistake and I wanted to help. Isn’t the logic to try and help guys get over errors they make?”

“That's what we’re doing every day, technically, and that’s what we’re trying to do in life.”

Karmichael Hunt was sidelined from training again on Tuesday. Photo: Brian Cook PhotographyImprovement is somewhat of a mantra of Cheika’s, resonating throughout his squad, and the Wallabies mentor said that applied in every situation.

“Part the growth of this team is about being better people as well,” he said.

“When I say better people... we don’t all want to be holding hands singing ‘We are the World’, we know what our thing is here and we want to do it to the best of our ability because it’s inspiring and it’s a symbol to young kids who are playing the game, to people who want to support the game (and) to our fans who want us to go out there and win.

“All that stuff, every time we walk out there all of Australia are behind us.

“I’m learning as well now that I’m in the situation and I think to help a guy who’s made a mistake who’s been in trouble, I think we should be doing more of it in society.”

When asked whether he was concerned about potential public backlash about Hunt’s selection, Cheika said he understood both sides of the coin but ultimately it was an individual choice.

“That’s their choice,” he said.

“The guy’s trying to - he’s working on himself to be better, like we all are. There’s certainly no one that’s perfect in the group.

“I understand that (other point of view) as well. I’m certainly not proclaiming that it has to be the other way around..

“He’s always been very respectful to me and he’s always tried his best on the footy field as well which is part of it.

“He’s acknowledged his errors and he wants to move on.”

While Hunt has the full backing of his teammates and coaching staff, his next challenge is getting back to full fitness.

The Reds fullback sat out training for the second day in a row, with a groin niggle that has seen him miss the past two Super Rugby matches as well.