Disgraced former NRL star Karmichael Hunt is set for a shock return to first grade rugby league.
According to reports, the former Origin fullback and 2006 Premiership winner will rejoin the Broncos on a train-and-trial deal from Monday.
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It’ll be his first time playing in the NRL since 2009, when he left the Broncos to play French rugby union, before joining the AFL’s Gold Coast Suns.
News of Hunt’s return broke on Thursday morning, with club officials hoping Hunt’s acquisition will bring much-needed experience to Brisbane’s spine.
Despite usually playing on the wing or at fullback during his 126 NRL games, the 34-year-old will reportedly slot into the halves at Red Hill, as coach Kevin Walters looks to cement a winning halves pairing for the remainder of the season.
Hunt’s arrival can’t come soon enough for the battling Broncos.
Walters dropped million-dollar five-eighth Anthony Milford for this week’s clash with the Panthers, citing his inconsistent performances over the first five weeks of the season.
“He needs to go back and find himself, find his form and find the Anthony Milford we all know he can be,” he told The Australian this week.
It’ll be up to Storm junior Brodie Croft and promising youngster Tom Dearden to steer the ship against Ivan Cleary’s red-hot Penrith outfit on Thursday night.
Hunt could well be the steady hand the Broncos need going forward. He’ll bring a wealth of big game experience to Red Hill, with 10 State of Origin appearances and 11 international caps to his name.
After his stint in the AFL, Hunt signed with the Queensland Reds to recommence playing rugby union.
His career hit a snag when he was charged with four counts of supplying cocaine in 2015.
Hunt pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of drug possession and was fined a total of $600. No conviction was recorded, allowing him to resume playing rugby union.
Hunt has been reacclimatising to rugby league by playing for Souths Logan in the Intrust Super Cup this season. He’s notched three appearances for the Queensland side since debuting in March.
The 2004 Rookie of the Year could be playing for the Broncos as soon as next weekend, when they hope to get their season back on track against the Eels in Darwin.
Brisbane has started the year with just one win from its first five starts, managing only to topple the beleaguered Bulldogs so far.
Walters remains confident his team will continue to improve in 2021, however.
“We are Round 5 of 25 so we are a quarter of the way,” he said on Wednesday.
“If you look at a cake there is still three quarters of the cake to eat, so that’s what excites me.”