Incoming Waratahs coach Rob Penney praised Karmichael Hunt’s leadership after NSW announced the dual international had re-signed with the franchise for the 2020 season.
After arriving at the Waratahs in 2019 on a player-swap deal with Queensland, Hunt turned in a stellar debut season in sky blue and was awarded the Tahs’ best back for the season. An untimely knee injury at the end of the season prevented Hunt from making a late dash at the Wallabies’ World Cup squad.
With Hunt’s contract expiring at the end of 2019, however, and with it some financial input into his salary from the Reds, the Waratahs and the former Wallabies centre were both keen to extend his stay in Sydney but a deal has only been struck after lengthy negotations.
Hunt’s presence will be hugely valuable to the Waratahs given the departure of a large number of senior stars ahead of the 2020 season, with Bernard Foley, Nick Phipps, Sekope Kepu and Israel Folau all gone.
Penney, who is replacing Daryl Gibson, cited the experience and leadership of the 33-year-old Hunt as a key asset for a young Waratahs group in 2020.
“Everyone I’ve spoken to can’t speak highly enough of Karmichael, his attitude, professionalism and experience will be extremely valuable this season,” Penney said in a release.
“He’s a supremely talented athlete and from all reports, sets the example for our younger guys in the way he goes about his business, looks after his body and prepares for games.
“We’ve all seen what Karmichael’s capable of across what’s been an illustrious career, he brought that to the [NSW] Waratahs in 2019 and will again play a vital role in the midfield next season.
“He’s a player I’m really looking forward to working with and I’m pleased he’s remaining a Waratah for another season.”
Hunt expressed gratitude to the Waratahs for embracing him after he spent a year in the wilderness at Brad Thorn’s Reds, following drug-related controversies.
“I’m grateful for the opportunity the Waratahs gave me to play Super Rugby [in 2019] and the care and support provided by my teammates and everyone within the organisation,” Hunt said in a release.
“My family and I are happy in New South Wales and the environment at the Waratahs is a huge part of that, it’s a place that’s been great for me both professionally and personally.
“We’ve got a good young squad of guys that I’m looking forward to playing alongside, sharing some of my experiences with and contributing to their development [in 2020].
“Next season is a new challenge for all of us, it’s exciting and I can’t wait to get started.”