Hunt hopeful of Wallabies return

The Rugby Championship
by Sam Phillips

Karmichael Hunt will start running again this week and is hopeful of being on the flight to South Africa, though he admits it will be touch and go.

Hunt started all three June Tests at inside centre and proved a more than capable second playmaker in that role, outside Bernard Foley.

Kurtley Beale will prove hard to displace, having been Australia's best player in the two Bledisloe Tests, but Hunt has shown enough to feature as a long term part of Michael Cheika's best 23.

For now, though, Hunt is focused on the little things.

"The goal is just to run at the moment for me but if I could make myself available for that (South Africa and Argentina trip), that would be good," he said.

"From all reports with these kinds of injuries they can go really smoothly but once you start running you get a bit of pain with it.Hunt made an impressive start to his Wallabies career in June. Photo: RUGBY.com.au/Stuart Walmsley"Just looking after the body, I've had a lingering knee injury as well so hopefully that has healed up as well as my ankle and I will be good to go when the time comes.

"You just have to manage your load and see how you pull up but so far so good."

Hunt watched both Bledisloe's from afar and was delighted to see improvement from the poor showing in Sydney.

"I was a lot happier, obviously, with last weekend, I thought the boys put a tremendous effort in," he said.

"The first week is what it is - everyone was obviously bitterly disappointed in Australia but they come out and I think they are starting to change perceptions.

"I think the team that we saw in Dunedin and their effort in both defence and attack as well, it looked like a completely different team.

"I think it's only onwards and upwards from here, which is a good thing because although Bledisloe is gone, we will continue to keep gaining momentum going forward."With Kurtley Beale back on deck, where Hunt will fit in remains unclear. Photo: Getty ImagesWhile there were positives, he also expressed the same emotions to the loss in Dunedin as the rest of the squad - bitter disappointment.

"As a fan you probably take the optimistic route but as a competitor, you probably feel that you could have won the game," Hunt said.

"You had the opportunity to beat the All Blacks in Dunedin and that doesn't probably come around too often.

"To be ahead with a couple minutes to go on the clock, you'd like to close those games out so all the boys would be feeling it because they're competitors.

"What we want to do is go out there and win games.Hunt, like the rest of the Wallabies, was bitterly disappointed with the second Bledisloe result. Photo: Getty Images"As fans and Australians we want to move forward but immediately after the game you'd be bitterly disappointed."

Beale may be the man keeping Hunt from starting at inside centre for the rest of the year but he was extremely complimentary of his return to the Test arena.

"He (Beale) has probably been one of our best, if not our best, in the first two games," Hunt said.

"He led from the front defensively, did really well, in attack as well, you can't fault him in his return.

"His experience is invaluable and the way he plays is invaluable as well.

"It's great to have him back on board."