Hunt heads to Aussie Rules via French rugby union

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Australian rugby league star Karmichael Hunt has touched down at French rugby union club Biarritz in a move that leaves him one step closer to achieving a unique sporting treble.

The 23-year-old former Brisbane Broncos player has a lucrative contract to play for Aussie rules outfit Gold Coast in the Australian Football League (AFL) from 2011, which would make him the first Australian footballer in the professional era to play NRL, AFL and rugby union.

Biarritz said Hunt, who was not deemed a foreign player as he was registered as a Cook Islands citizen - thus qualifying as a player from an emerging nation, signed up to the Top 14 team to test himself in rugby union.

"He has enormous potential and a great desire to succeed," said Biarritz's Australian coach Jack Isaac.

"We'll leave him the time to adapt but with such a player that should come quite quickly."

Biarritz, with regular backs Jean-Baptiste Gobelet, Philippe Bidabe and Yann Fior all out injured, reportedly signed Hunt on a six-month contract that Australian media said was worth around A$300,000 ($370,000).


The Australian newspaper cited Hunt, who has not played union since his school days, as saying he was confident he could make the grade in the 15-a-side game.

"I think I am as ready as I can be," he said, quoted by the paper.

"It has been a little while since I played any rugby (union), but I am not too worried about that.

"In the past 24 hours I have just been running over a few things in my head, just remembering how I used to play the game and thinking about all the rules and little technical changes I will need to be straight with by the time I get to the club.

"I think I will be fine. In terms of mindset and preparation, not much changes from what I have been doing the past six years in Brisbane.

"Obviously they are different games and there is different rules and tactics, but I think that will come back pretty quickly once I start training with the team and getting my head around how they play and what the coaching staff will want from me."

Hunt, born in New Zealand to a Samoan father and Cook Islander mother, was not keen to be pigeon-holed in any one position, having played centre and fullback at school, and fullback in rugby league.

"I certainly enjoyed fullback. It gives you that bit of space and freedom to inject yourself on the game in different places," said Hunt, who has won 11 Australia caps in league.

"You aren't normally locked to one side or one spot.

"But obviously a lot of that stuff will be worked out once I... meet the coaches and my teammates and see what their ideas for me are."

Hunt travelled via Paris and actually caught a plane down to Biarritz with local rivals Bayonne, who had played Racing-Metro in European action on Saturday.

Hunt told The Australian that he had made contact with former Australian test teammates Craig Gower and Mark Gasnier, as well as former Bulldog Sonny Bill Williams.

Gower, who switched codes to play for Bayonne and has gone on to play for Italy, "has offered just to help us settle in, tell us where we should go and where we shouldn't", Hunt said.

"I have said a number of times in the past that I was desperate to do some travelling, to get out and see the world.

"I am at the right age and the right place to experience that, so we will definitely be making the most of this opportunity."

Sourced from: The New Zealand Herald/AFP