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Waratahs name team for Reds

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Hunt out for glory against the Reds as Waratahs name a strong side

TEAM ANNOUNCEMENT: Code-hopper Karmichael Hunt has achieved more than most footballers dream of, but he still yearns for an elusive Super Rugby finals appearance.

An NRL premiership winner, Queensland State of Origin and Australian rugby league Test star all before turning 21, Hunt became a dual international after debuting for the Wallabies two years ago.

Along with Israel Folau, the champion all-rounder is also one of only two athletes to have played three top-flight football codes in Australia, having spent four seasons with the Gold Coast Suns in between.

But now he’s desperate to tick another box and help the NSW Waratahs revive their flagging fortunes to reach the business end of the Super Rugby season.

Turning 33 this year, the backline utility knows he won’t get too many more chances.

“That’s why we play football. It’s as simple as that,” Hunt said on Thursday.

“As a 17-year-old at the (Brisbane) Broncos, the expectation was to make the final every year and fortunately I played in a lot of finals as a young kid and maybe I took it for granted back then.

“I haven’t tasted finals football for quite a while and definitely coming down to the Tahs (this season) it was definitely an expectation of mine considering the group and where they were at last year and all they’ve done in the past.”

After three straight losses, the Waratahs have fallen to fourth in the Australian conference with just five regular rounds remaining.

But with three pivotal derbies to come, starting on Saturday night against his old club the Queensland Reds, Hunt maintains the Waratahs remain in control of their finals fate.

“Although it seems like a long stretch to some people, we still believe and we know that we still have our destiny in our hands and we’re looking forward to this weekend and getting back on track,” he said.

Coach Daryl Gibson has reinstated Adam Ashley-Cooper to partner Hunt in the centres in what will be the Wallabies veteran’s 150th Super Rugby game.

In the only other changes to the side that lost 29-28 to the Lions last Saturday, Wallabies prop Tom Robertson will make his first start of the season after recovering from a knee reconstruction and Ned Hanigan moves from blinside flanker to the second row.

Waratahs: Kurtley Beale, Alex Newsome, Adam Ashley-Cooper, Karmichael Hunt, Cam Clark, Bernard Foley, Nick Phipps, Michael Wells, Michael Hooper (c), Lachlan Swinton, Rob Simmons, Ned Hanigan, Sekope Kepu, Damien Fitzpatrick, Tom Robertson. Reserves: Tolu Latu, Harry Johnson-Holmes, Chris Talakai, Tom Staniforth, Will Miller, Jake Gordon, Lalakai Foketi, Curtis Rona.

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Hunt out for glory against the Reds as Waratahs name a strong side