While the rugby world remains fixated on the, admittedly superior, European domestic leagues, the Australian Rugby circus has kicked up again, with Karmichael Hunt’s arrest over drug possession.
Karmichael Hunt has been charged with drug possession again, after previously being charged in 2015. He was given a second chance back then. However, after this latest charge, the consensus is that he will not feature again for the Wallabies. He has been stood down from all rugby activities just weeks after signing a two-year deal with Rugby Australia.
The heir apparent
Australia relies on Kurtley Beale to make the majority of decisions in this Wallabies side. Hunt was the heir apparent to Beale’s 12 jersey. In particular, he was expected to step into Beale’s shoes following the 2019 World Cup. That, at least, was the conclusion after his multiple strong performances in the June internationals in 2017. Whether his long-term position was 12 or 15, he has seemed to be forefront in Cheika’s plans.
While he may lack the physical prowess of fellow Queensland Red Samu Kerevi, Hunt is a tackling machine. He also offers versatility, able to play 12 or 15. He can assist Foley in the playmaking as well, potentially as first receiver. Initially selected in the June internationals, Hunt seemed to be a strong, hardworking leader. He was also praised by Cheika and others for his off-field honesty and drive, adding much to a new Wallabies side.
“He’s overcome some hardship, even since he’s come to rugby, some difficulties and that’s what we want in players. We want them to be resilient” – Michael Cheika
World Cup implications
This Wallabies side doesn’t tick without Kurtley Beale’s decision-making and tactical prowess at 12. The rigorous schedule of modern-day rugby combined with the physical danger that is a cornerstone of the game means it’s not outlandish to suggest an injury to Beale at some point. Whether it impacts Australia’s World Cup plans or not, there is no obvious like-for-like replacement for the Wallabies.
Hunt may not have been able to make the starting side for the World Cup, but he would be the first choice replacement for Beale’s jersey. Now the young Reece Hodge or powerhouse Kerevi are the replacements at inside centre. But neither have the decision-making prowess or defensive ability of Hunt. Rugby has a knack for striking you at the worst times. An injury to Beale will spell trouble for this Australian outfit, especially without Hunt to step in.
The Australian rugby circus carries on
This situation casts further negative light on Australian rugby, which is still floundering after the Super Rugby debacle. The story of Karmichael Hunt looked to be a shining example of a man who made the best of himself after complications with the law and injury. However, it now appears to have come to an abrupt halt, damaging the prospects of this Wallabies side. It now rests upon new ARU Chief Executive Raelene Castle to decide upon whether Hunt’s promising career will end here.
Author: David Lind
David lives in Perth, Australia, but is a born and bred Kiwi. He spends his time between studies and running the drinks for his cricket club. His articles on the 1014 allow him to let out his rugby feelings online rather than at his mates.