Karmichael Hunt’s move to New South Wales Waratahs is official.
The code-hopper was finally unveiled on Monday morning after months of speculation, the 32-year-old moving to Sydney on a one-year deal as part of a player swap that saw Waratahs utility Bryce Hegarty join the Reds.
Hunt was cast aside by Reds coach Brad Thorn last season after he was found in possession of Xanax during a night out in Brisbane’s Fortitude Valley. He was forced to play Brisbane Premier Rugby alongside fellow discard Quade Cooper, who has since found a new home with Melbourne Rebels.
Hunt had also previously served a four-game ban and $30,000 fine in 2015 after he was caught up in the Queensland Crime Commission’s investigation into cocaine use on the Gold Coast.
Still, Waratahs coach Daryl Gibson said the club believed Hunt was focused on turning his life around and would make a valuable contribution in 2019.
“Today we welcome Karmichael to the NSW Waratahs team,” Gibson said via media release.
“We acknowledge the off-field issues that Karmichael has faced in the past and today’s decision is one that as a team and a business, we have not taken lightly.
“We have made an informed decision after completing a thorough process by not only speaking with Karmichael, but also his family, his team mates and broader support network, as well as consulting our own staff, board, players, and extended support team.
“Karmichael has been very open and genuine with us about his off-field issues and his desire to turn things around, not only professionally but personally.”
Hunt will add depth to the Waratahs’ backline stocks, a key focal point for Gibson in a season where he will have to negotiate mandatory rest weeks for NSW’s Wallabies squad members.
“One of the findings out of 2018 season review is that we played our best players too much,” Gibson said. “Our strategy was we needed to improve the depth of our squad and Karmichael helps us with that. “I was pleased with what we saw from him throughout the NRC from both his attack and defence.”
Hunt said he was excited by the opportunity at a fresh start in a new city after spending all of his Australian sporting life in Queensland.
“The NSW Waratahs is a team steeped in history. They were one game away from making the final last year and have winning aspirations, I can’t wait to get back in to it,” said Hunt.
“It means a lot me that Daryl and the Waratahs have decided to give me another go, I’m ready to take this opportunity with both hands. Myself, my family and my friends are all excited for the Super Rugby season ahead.
“I’m always the first to admit that I’ve made mistakes. But the time away from the sport has been the most important thing that has happened to me.”