Code-hopping state-swapper Karmichael Hunt is pledging to pour every ounce of his Queensland blood into his Super Rugby derby debut for the NSW Waratahs against his former Reds teammates on Saturday night.
Frozen out by Reds coach Brad Thorn last year before being handed a lifeline by the Waratahs, Hunt insists he bears no grudges against his old team.
But he’s still intent on claiming bragging rights in what will be, surprisingly, only the dual international’s second appearance at the SCG after facing the Sydney Swans at the iconic venue while playing AFL for the Gold Coast Suns in 2013.
“There’s a tremendous amount of history in there and I’m proud to be wearing the jersey but this weekend’s game is against the old foe, who I played all my school footy in the colours – obviously Origin and what-not,” Hunt said.
“So the way I look at it is I’m going to take all that passion and pride and what-not that I used as a schoolboy in Queensland as a Bronco, an AFL player, an Origin player and just pour it into the NSW jersey this weekend.
“I’m still really good friends with the guys I’m playing against, so that’s going to be an experience in itself but, as always, once the whistle goes, there’s no friends other than the guys that you’re wearing the same colours with and I look forward to going to battle with them.”
Hunt has had a solid start to the season for the Waratahs, playing in both centre positions during their opening two games, and isn’t fussed where coach Daryl Gibson plays him against the Reds.
“Chopping and changing, obviously you have to get used to a different role and there’s a bit of knowledge to get down pat before kick-off comes but, other than that, it’s just once the whistle goes, you go out there and do your best,” he said.
“You do your role, you compete and you try and do everything possible to get a win for your team.
“That doesn’t change if you’re in 13,12, on the bench or number 15.”
Hunt spent his first few weeks in Sydney living in Gibson’s garage, making great friends with the coach’s triplet sons and the rest of the family.
Having now moved back in with his own family, the classy utility is relishing in the freedom afforded by his new coach.
“Daryl’s doing a great job,” Hunt said.
“The coaching staff are doing a great job with using my ability and my talents. I’m just happy to go out there and put my best foot forward obviously with the transition so far and just look forward to keep improving and obviously keep adding to what we’re trying to do as a team here.”
Reds backrower Angus Scott-Young ahead of Waratahs derby:
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