Hunt intent on staying home

Super Rugby
by Sam Phillips

Karmichael Hunt is determined to return to Super Rugby with the Reds, having turned down offers to ply his trade elsewhere during a seven month stint on the sideline.

Hunt was in good spirits after returning to rugby with Souths in their 24-all draw against Bond University on Saturday, opening up about the desire to remain at Ballymore despite not figuring in coach Brad Thorn's plans this season.

"I signed at the end of last year with other opportunities to go overseas and whatnot but the carrot for me has always been Brissy, the Reds and getting us to play finals footy - which hasn't been the case for a number of years now," Hunt said.

"When everything happened I told them I just wanted to repay the faith and apologise.

"It hasn't been as smooth as I would like it - which is understandable - but hopefully this is the start of progress forward for me."

Hunt has left any potential move in the hands of his management but his intention is to force his way back into Thorn's plans, having resumed training at Ballymore - albeit away from the main squad.Hunt has no intention of leaving Brisbane. Photo: Getty Images"The manager is in dialogue and I suppose that's his job, to look after my best interests," he said.

"But I expressed from the start of the year that Brissy is home and I want to get back out there with my Reds boys.

"I've been back around them for a couple of weeks now - I obviously haven't been training with them but just being in and around the change rooms and reconnecting with them - it has been missed."

The 31-year-old has also reached out to Brisbane City coach Mick Heenan after he told it may not be "logical" to pick Hunt and Quade Cooper in his side for the upcoming NRC season.

"Definitely keen," Hunt said when asked if he was eager to play NRC.

"I tried to contact Mick on Thursday and we have been playing phone tag but I've made him aware that I'm definitely keen to play for him."

Hunt has had no such trouble getting in touch with Wallabies coach Michael Cheika, who has been in constant contact throughout the year.

"Cheik's been really great," Hunt said.

"I've been in constant dialogue with Cheik - he has checked up on me pretty regularly throughout the year."Hunt and Quade Cooper have been sidelined by coach Brad Thorn. Photo: Getty ImagesAway from the talk surrounding his playing future, Hunt has sought regular counselling from a psychologist to help deal with some personal demons.

"I've been pretty regular with not only the Rugby Australia sanction where they make you go and see a psychologist - I've also got my own guy that I've been seeing since the start of the year," he said.

"I don't claim to know everything but one thing I do know is what can pop up in life with stress and everything like that - you have to learn to deal with that - and it's a constant learning curve for me."

That process has helped Hunt come to terms with the fact that many rugby fans may not want to see him make a return, having already thrown his second chance away.

"I said that from the first time I got in trouble - everyone is entitled to their opinion," he said.

"I'm not going to be weighed down by it.

"I respect it but for me, I just want to get out there and do what I know I can do and that's to improve and play footy - that's who I am.

"All I know how to do is play footy, help my teammates become better and sure, I haven't been the best behaved over my life - you can ask mum and dad - but they know the quality and character of their boy and that's someone who gives his all to his team."