Hunt hoping to stick with Waratahs in 2021

Super Rugby
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

For Karmichael Hunt, an ideal 2021 involves playing at the Waratahs and preparing for a trans-Tasman Super Rugby competition.

Hunt is off contract at the end of this season, his second with the Waratahs, and said he hoped he would still be with NSW next year.

Australia's professional playing group have all agreed to 60 per cent pay cuts and what the payment pool will look going in the long-term could be determined by the results of broadcast deal negotiations later this year for 2021 and beyond.

Super Rugby franchises are on contract freezes, unable to re-sign or sign new faces, leaving the immediate situation uncertain for clubs and players.

Hunt said money wasn't his motivating factor in deciding his next move but having a secure and clear plan for Super Rugby was important.

"It's not at my stage of my career, personally it's never just been about money it's about meaning first and foremost and about challenge but my ideal world would be that we've got a Super Rugby competition here where, whether it's a trans-Tasman competition or whether it's a national competition," he said.

"I would love to stay at the Waratahs and continue to help lead with Simmo (Rob Simmons) with Hoops (Michael Hooper), with the young guys coming through.

"I think we've got a really good crop of players down here, I'm really enjoying my football down here.

"I'm enjoying the football Rob's (coach Rob Penney) trying to implement down here but as we all know there's still a lot of uncertainty around what next year looks like but all I can do is continue to turn up daily and continue to prepare as best I can but I would hopefully it's here next year if we've got a comp."

Hunt all but ruled out retiring, confident his body could stand up to another season of professional sport.

"I think this is year 17 and I've always been dictated to by how I'm feeling mentally, how I'm feeling physically but most importantly what my footy form's telling me," he said.

"I'm getting no indications that I want to stop playing so for me I want to keep pushing on and playing good football.

"We don't know what it's going to look like here in Australia but if I had a crystal ball it'll be (that) we have a competition here where I was able to stay and continue to lead these guys down here and continue to play some good football.

"But there's plenty of water to go under the bridge.

"The first box to tick for us is to prepare for this competition that's coming up in hopefully July and obviously try and put some good performances together so we can not have two disappointing seasons if you're looking at it that way."

On a broader scale, Hunt said he hoped the current turbulence in the sport would result in a trans-Tasman competition.

Many of Australia's players have called for a Super Rugby rethink in recent months, calling for Australia and New Zealand to walk away from the current four-nation system and look more locally.

Hunt said he felt that would be the best solution, with the option to play the best Kiwi sides week in, week out, as well as more local derbies.

"I'm not too sure what everyone else is thinking but it makes more sense for me that we've got a trans-Tasman competition between the teams in Australia and the teams in New Zealand," he said.

"I know they're getting started pretty soon as well but it'd be awesome for the Aussie teams to be able to cross paths with the New Zealand teams and just to continue more importantly for our rugby relationships to continue to nurture that and continue to push the competition on this side of the ditch more so than that side but just continue to rise because you always want to play against the best teams.

"It's just like the Warriors in rugby league, they get the benefit of playing the top Aussie teams every weekend as well and that's done the game in New Zealand wonders.

"It's just like when they play at the national level, you always want to play the best teams to make sure you're always around the mark and know where you are in relation to your competition.

"That makes the most sense from my perspective in terms of furthering the game and growing the game here from a competitive level.

"Whether or not that's financially viable but that's beyond me but it sounds like it would make a lot more sense than playing South African teams and Argentinian teams."