Hunt to link up with Cooper in club rugby

Super Rugby
by Sam Phillips

Karmichael Hunt will end a nine-month rugby exile on Saturday when he turns out alongside fellow banished Reds star Quade Cooper for Souths.

Hunt has not played any significant rugby since linking up with the Wallabies on Spring Tour last year but he will return to the field when the Magpies travel to the Gold Coast to face Bond University on Saturday.

Hunt linked up with Souths after his good friend Cooper approached him about pulling the boots back on, alongside him in club rugby.

He will be ineligible for finals football with just four regular season rounds remaining but is expected to come off the bench for the Magpies.

"He has been isolated for so long... that can only go on for so long, I suppose," Souths president Anthony Shepley told RUGBY.com.au.

"He was approached by Quade and to be honest if Quade wasn't at the club, he probably wouldn't be playing for us - he was the catalyst.Hunt hasn't featured for the Reds this season. Photo: Getty Images"It's about getting him back involved with rugby, getting him around the team and giving him some support."

Hunt met his new teammates for the first time at Souths training on Thursday night and was in good spirits, according to Shepley.

"He was just grateful for the opportunity," Shepley said.

"He's been isolated for a long time and he was just happy to be back out there, I think."

Shepley has only had brief discussions with the QRU about bringing Hunt on board but it's understood he hasn't actually been registered to play for Norths since 2016 - clearing the way for an immediate debut.

Cooper has been plying his trade for Souths this season. Photo: QRU Media/Brendan Hertel"I have had a discussion with (the QRU) about it," Shepley said.

"They didn't have any issues with it - not at this stage anyway."

Hunt's ineligibility for finals football adds weight to Shepley's stance that this decision is not about chasing premiership flags and he also pointed to the success the team has already has this season - sitting just one point off the top of the Queensland Premier Rugby ladder.

"We certainly don't want to disrupt the team and displace guys who have been playing well," he said.

"There is compassion there for his plight - even if he has brought it upon himself - but we want to help him transition back into rugby."

The QRU confirmed Hunt is now registered to play for Souths.