Karmichael Hunt is closing in on becoming a dual international just over a year after his reputation had been in tatters.
The 29-year-old is poised to complete a 15-month journey from outcast to Wallabies playmaker after being named on Thursday in Michael Cheika’s 39-man training squad for the three-Test series against England.
Cheika is considering Hunt as a fullback – or possibly even as a Kurtley Beale-type ball-playing inside centre – for the series opener on June 11 in Brisbane.
Either way, selection would mean a remarkable career turnaround for a man many felt had ruined any chance of an international call-up after pleading guilty last March to four charges of cocaine possession in a Gold Coast court.
“Obviously a pretty hectic couple of years,” Hunt said.
“The light was probably a bit hard to see at the end of the tunnel but things happen for a reason.
“My past is probably no different to a lot of other people. We all make mistakes and for him (Cheika) to give me another chance to come and get involved this time around is a blessing for me.
“I feel honoured that I’ve been given the chance.”
Hunt could potentially line up alongside former Brisbane NRL teammate Israel Folau with another ex-Bronco, Ben Te’o, a possibility to debut for Eddie Jones’ England team.
“I suppose he’ll decide that on how he goes once he starts getting into the company of the players who are there (in camp),” Cheika said.
“But I think he’s played really well this season. I won’t say best form ever but he’s been really consistent.
“His support play, his dynamism in the game, his work rate … things we look for off the ball a lot are there.
“And he’s played games on the biggest stages across several codes. I’ve seen Karmichael play rugby before this stint here in Australia, in France in Beiritz, where he was excellent playing in playmaker roles.
“He had an interrupted year last year, unfortunately, but this year he’s had a good go at it.”
It’s not Hunt’s first taste of the Wallabies after being named in an extended train-on squad for last year’s World Cup.
But the code-hopper who also enjoyed a four-season stint with GWS in the AFL said selection for last year’s tournament would have come too soon.
“Everything’s happened the way it should have. It’s as simple as that,” Hunt said.
“As much as everyone, including myself, that missed out on a World Cup last year would have loved to be involved – it’s safe to say I wasn’t ready.
“I’m really happy to be involved and we’ll just see where it takes us.”