Hunt fined but free to play for Reds

Super Rugby
by Sam Phillips

Rugby Australia have slapped Karmichael Hunt with a $10,000 fine and a four match suspension as punishment for his arrest in December.

Having pleaded guilty to two charges in Brisbane Magistrates Court last month, Rugby AU deemed Hunt's arrest a low-level breach of the code of conduct.

The resulting punishment leaves Hunt $10,000 out of pocket but since he voluntarily stood down from Super Rugby to start the season and the Reds have since played four games, Rugby AU deemed that the suspension has already been served.

That means the 31-year-old is immediately available for selection, though whether he is now part of Reds coach Brad Thorn's plans remains to be seen.Karmichael Hunt is free to play for the Reds. Photo: WalmsleyThe Reds are currently in transit to Cape Town and Hunt will not be joining them there.

Queensland then have a bye in round seven, meaning his next available opportunity to play will be against the Brumbies at GIO Stadium on April 7.

That is also the match injured stars Izaia Perese and George Smith are targeting for their returns, with Lukhan Tui certain to feature after serving his three match suspension, too.

In a statement, Rugby Australia CEO Raelene Castle said the punishment did factor in Hunt's previous misdemeanours.Hunt could feature for the Reds in round seven. Photo: Getty Images"We take all matters of off-field behaviour seriously and have conducted a thorough investigation into the events surrounding Karmichael Hunt’s arrest in December, and the subsequent court proceedings," Castle said.

"In arriving at today’s outcome, we’ve considered the judgement of the court and all the evidence we had available relating to Karmichael’s arrest, as well as considering the damage that the very public nature of his arrest and the subsequent speculation has inflicted on the game.

"The penalty handed down to Karmichael today also takes into account a previous disciplinary matter for which he was fined and suspended in 2015."

QRU CEO Richard Barker offered an intriguing comment in relation to the Rugby AU punishment.

"Rugby Australia has run this investigation and has determined the penalties announced today," Barker said.

"The QRU is working with Rugby Australia to understand the implications of today’s announcement for the QRU."