KARMICHAEL Hunt is set to be a Waratah in 2019 in a deal that will involve a player swap with utility Bryce Hegarty, who will return to Queensland.
RUGBY.com.au can reveal a deal between NSW and Hunt is imminent, with the 32-year-old dual international last week telling family, friends and Reds teammates he will be wearing sky blue in February.
Paperwork is still being finalised but is expected to be signed off before Christmas.
Financial haggling between the Reds and Waratahs did not last long and the transfer finally clears each of Queensland’s three banished stars from Ballymore, after Quade Cooper made the move to Melbourne and James Slipper found a fresh start at the Brumbies.
The QRU are still paying some part of the trio’s salaries but have now cleared the majority of the cash from their books after coach Brad Thorn decided they were not part of his future plans.
Hunt has not reported at Queensland preseason and did not take part in a three day camp on the Sunshine Coast late last week.
He is now house hunting in Sydney instead, eager to turn his third chance in rugby into a World Cup berth.
Bringing Hunt to Sydney is a show of faith from Waratahs coach Daryl Gibson after a string of off-field controversies during his time in Queensland rugby.
But as a very experienced inside or outside back, Hunt also ticks plenty of boxes for Gibson, who is desperate to add depth to the NSW team.
Hunt can play no.12 and no.15 – and at a stretch no.13 – which will allow Gibson to rest and rotate Kurtley Beale, Israel Folau and even Bernard Foley.
Hegarty, 26, will move from the Waratahs after three seasons in the sky blue and join his third Super Rugby club after a previous three-year stint with the Rebels.
The Marist College Ashgrove product was a much valued player at the Waratahs, either coming off the bench for impact or starting at fullback and forcing Folau onto the wing.
Hegarty, who also spent time in the Broncos under 20s program, will instantly be in the reckoning to wear the no.15 jersey with Thorn’s Reds.