Hunt interview: NRC is my path back to Super Rugby

Super Rugby
by Sam Phillips

Karmichael Hunt is desperately searching for a path back to Super Rugby and all signs point to the NRC.

Hunt's Souths Magpies were bundled out of Queensland Premier Rugby contention a fortnight ago and while the exiled Wallaby was not permitted to play, his four appearances at the back end of the regular season indicate he still has plenty to offer.

Showing his wares at NRC level is the next step on the road back to Super Rugby but RUGBY.com.au understands the majority of routes are currently blocked.

The Reds are understood to have not budged on their stance regarding Hunt's playing status and the Rebels have expressed no desire to recruit the 31-year-old given their depth in the outside backs.

The Waratahs are in a similar boat as Melbourne with Bernard Foley, Kurtley Beale and Israel Folau all expected to remain in Sydney for 2019.

That leaves the cash strapped Brumbies as Hunt's only possible refuge but for now, Hunt told RUGBY.com.au there's only one club he wants to represent next season.Hunt is hopeful of a return to Super Rugby next season. Photo: RUGBY.com.au/Stuart Walmsley"There have been conversations and those are panning out with my manager," Hunt said.

"But for me this is home and I probably sound like a broken record but I'm just focusing on playing footy and what's in front of me and that's the NRC.

"I've put in a lot of work up here and I've really enjoyed the time I have spent with Souths and their juniors.

"I'm just trying to give back as much as possible.

"After what has happened I am just trying to give back and pay back as much as I can.

"If that means I get an opportunity to play rugby at the next level again then that's great but I'll deal with that when it comes."

Being named in Brisbane City's squad is a step forward, albeit a small one, for Hunt, with coach Mick Heenan initially unsure as to whether the pair of banished Reds stars would be eligible for selection.

Mick Heenan will lead Brisbane City once again in 2018. Photo: QRU Media/Brendan HertelHeenan and Hunt have spoken since, eager to build on a sixth place finish in 2017 in which both Hunt and Cooper were in and out of the starting XV due to Wallabies and Barbarians duties.

"I've caught up with Heeno numerous times and initially it was just making it clear that I was ready to play for him," Hunt said.

"I played for him last year and really enjoyed it and he expressed the same sentiment once he got the okay from the QRU and the Reds to pick myself and obviously Quade as well.

"We're all very excited and we're looking forward to going one better than what we did last year.

"This year we can hopefully make a good run of it and get back to winning like we did in the first couple of years."

Whether he will ever figure in Wallabies plans again remains to be seen but Hunt signalled his intentions when asked whether he had spoken to coach Michael Cheika.

"He knows I'm here and he knows what my intent is and that's to get back and play top flight footy," he said.

"I'm always here and he knows that.

"While this break isn't what I wanted and isn't what I hoped for - the bright side is that I've been able to reset, recover and repair.

"Now I feel like I'm  an energised and healthy guy heading into an NRC comp and then into next year.

"I can't wait to get back out there for City."