Hunt willing to compromise to get rugby back

Super Rugby
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

Waratahs centre Karmichael Hunt says rule and stadium compromises need to be considered if it means shoring up rugby's return.

Rugby Australia is finalising a broadcast arrangement and the final participation for its competition, but a draw is expected to be unveiled within the next fortnight.

World Rugby's medical committee has also reportedly proposed rule changes for the resumption of rugby that include banning scrum resets and upright tackles to reduce the risk of transmission.

Chiefs halfback Brad Weber described the rule changes as "ridiculous" when asked on Tuesday but Hunt was more circumspect about the situation.

"You can't eliminate every factor when it comes to the issues that they're trying to minimise but if we can do it as best as possible while we're maintaining the fabric of the game then let's go ahead and do it but it might not be such a bad thing where they're giving away a free kick instead of resetting scrums," he said.

"The confusing one for me was the upright tackling, I'm not too sure that we practise upright tackling too much or face-to-face tackling. Normally when it happens you've sort of got a big gash under your eye or you're getting stitches.

"So, maybe the scrum is the only issue they've got to clean up but from my perspective whatever we need to do to get the game back going ASAP is the path we've got to head down in the short-term."

If Super Rugby Australia can get up and running on the weekend of July 3 and 4 it will be five weeks behind the NRL and three behind the AFL in returning to competition.

The NRL is set to return on Thursday May 28, the first of any of Australia's professional football codes to get back up and running after the coronavirus pandemic shut almost all sport down.

Hunt said he wasn't worried about rugby league's head start on rugby.

"I'm actually quite pleased for their industry and for their competition that they can get back up and running as soon as they can, that's what we want for the rest of the, for every other industry not just the sporting industry, but everyone else will be able to get their jobs back and get back into the workforce," he said.

"We can't be disappointed in the fact that league is starting much sooner than us, although we'd love to be following closely behind.

"It's obviously up to Rugby Australia and whatnot to do the negotiations around our competition and hopefully that's coming quite soon."

The Waratahs are into their third week of training and still awaiting the official announcement of an Australian Super Rugby competition.

While Hunt lamented the lack of trans-Tasman competition, he said there would be plenty on the line with local derbies every week.

"There's plenty to play for, there's Test jerseys that will possibly be on the line later in the year so guys will be fronting up and obviously putting their best foot forward for individual honours like that," he said.

"Teams like the Waratahs, my team, who obviously we struggled in the early part of our Super season just gone, we want to get back out there and rectify it and get our season back on track or start the new season on the right track so to speak.

"So, there's plenty to play for.

"Not having the cream of the crop in terms of New Zealand teams as competition is a little disappointing but hopefully we'll be able to merge in our competitions or we're able to play them down the track, that's the main thing."

The biggest oddity of any competition will be playing without crowds, a reality for all codes in the short term.

Hunt said he felt for fans who would be missing out on the chance to experience live rugby but it wouldn't immediately worry him on the field.

"As a player, we've been starved of competition so like you could probably, I'm not going to speak for everyone but for myself I would not be bothered if no one's in the stands as long as there's an opposition with a different coloured jersey on that I can play against, I'll be happy," he said.

"From a fan's perspective having been starved of rugby for the last couple of months and then not to be able to turn up and watch their team I'd be disappointed for them but hopefully the crowd numbers and obviously government are allowing restrictions to be eased as time goes by.

"Hopefully we can get back to families and juniors coming along to the games to support their teams because that's very important for everyone."