Hunt set for Wallabies super sub role

Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

Karmichael Hunt could be set to play a Kurtley Beale-esque utility role for the Wallabies in June, coach Michael Cheika says.

Though Hunt has starred at fullback for Queensland this year, he has experience playing in the centres, after a stint in France, and the midfield is where he began at the Reds.

With Israel Folau a near-lock in the Wallabies 15 spot and a player who generally plays the 80 minutes, Hunt’s opportunities could be limited there, too, especially with Dane Haylett-Petty also in the mix for that spot in Cheika's 34-man squad named on Tuesday night on FOX SPORTS' Kick and Chase.

Cheika said fullback was considered as Hunt’s best position but he would have value as a utility on the bench in June, similar to the way Beale was used in the 2015 Rugby World Cup.

It’s his off-field values, though, that helped him get over the line, with more than a decade of professional football experience under his belt.

“He’s played so well at fullback this year, you’d think that’s his spot but I’ve got a few handy players back there as well,” Cheika said.

“You couldn’t have left him out, just the attitude and his approach to the game and his character as well.

“We’re looking for personalities that can lead each other and lead a group of men into improving and playing some good rugby.

“I think Hunt has been a guy, he’s had to go through a fair bit to get to here and I’m sure now he’s got an opportunity, he’ll try and make every post a winner.

“That might mean him having to be a utility in some instances but I don't think he’d mind that.

“Predominantly, where I see he’s played his good football this year has been at fullback and that’s where we’ll be looking at him.”

Hunt is one of those players who has stood out in a dismal Super Rugby season for Australian teams, who are still 0-20 against Kiwi teams.

Cheika dismissed the suggestion that poor team records made it more difficult to find individuals in form, though.

“I’m not having any of that question about, ‘Is it hard to pick from the team we’ve got?,” he said.

“This is Australian rugby, they’re our players and they’re capable of doing anything.

“It’s about getting the mindset right and making them understand they can do it and then going out there and doing their absolute best.

“We’ve had difficult results perhaps but we look at the Brumbies and the way they went about their business on the weekend, I didn’t see a lot wrong with at performance.

“I’m not making excuses for anyone, I’m just saying we’ve got players there who can play better, some players who are playing quite well and we’ve got others who aren’t in this squad who need to push the competition up.

“If we get together and get the mindset right, we can be competitive.”

The Wallabies play their opening June Test on June 10 against Fiji. Buy tickets here.