Union's loss could be the Bronco's gain
James O’Connor believes NRL strugglers Brisbane can benefit from Karmichael Hunt’s premature Super Rugby exit by sensationally recalling the former champion fullback.
Hunt first made his name as a fearless 17-year-old in the Broncos’ No.1 from 2004, winning a title in 2006 and adding 11 Test caps and 10 State of Origin appearances for Queensland.
After top-level careers in both the AFL and Super Rugby – winning six Wallabies caps – the 34-year-old has returned to rugby league with the Broncos’ feeder-club Souths Logan in the second-tier Queensland Cup.
While coaching aspirations are the main driver behind his decision to return to league, he has indicated he would be keen if called up to play for the Broncos, who still have two roster spots to fill.
In his first game of rugby league since 2009, Hunt shone in the unfamiliar position of centre, setting up two tries and providing tremendous leadership as they knocked off defending premiers Burleigh o n Sunday.
Brisbane are riding a 13-game NRL losing streak ahead of Saturday’s clash with Canterbury and O’Connor, the Queensland Reds and Wallabies five-eighth, thinks Hunt could help fill their glaring leadership void.
“He’s a very calm head, not relaxed, just calm no matter what is happening and it creates belief around him so a guy like Karmichael could really help steer the ship there,” he told AAP.
“I saw the highlights as well; he was on, he looked good.
“He was doing really well for the Waratahs and could have easily gone around once or twice more.
“He was one of the best performers in all of Super Rugby AU; his game had developed, it was a complete game.”
O’Connor has plenty of opportunity to push Hunt’s case, revealing he shares the same local cafe as Brisbane coach Kevin Walters.
“Kevie is a good man with a good footy brain and I’ve spoken to him a fair bit actually – he can do the job there for them,” O’Connor sai d.
“He’s a level headed guy, knows what comes w ith it, knows the outside pressures but he knows how quickly a team can turn if the structures are right.
“He understands the intricacies, that it’s not too complicated so I don’t think they are as far off as people are sort of saying.”
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