Karmichael Hunt has credited the man he’s dubbed the “granddad” of Australian rugby union – new Queensland Reds coaching advisor John Connolly – for helping his smooth transition into the No.13 jersey.
The code-hopper played his first Reds game at outside centre in Friday night’s rousing 46-29 defeat of the Melbourne Rebels and looked at home in the new position, defending well and providing the short inside ball for debutant flyhalf Jake McIntyre to score his first Super Rugby try.
Hunt has had an interrupted season due to injury and his suspension for cocaine charges, but is hopeful of establishing himself as one of Queensland’s best options at 13 with the four remaining matches left this year.
Hunt, 28, has been used primarily at fullback and as a stopgap five-eighth by the Reds since his switch from the AFL, but has schoolboy and European experience in the centres.
He said the arrival of Connolly, who was brought in to reinforce the coaching structure surrounding embattled head coach Richard Graham, primed him for life as an outside centre last week.
“He’s the granddad of the game,” Hunt said of Connolly.
“That’s no disrespect to his age or whatnot, I say that with admiration.
“The years he’s survived and what he’s done as a coach is very highly rated.
“He’s spoken to individuals – myself included, he’s constantly tipping me on certain things.
“It was my first game at 13 so he had plenty to say and plenty of advice to offer.
“I enjoyed it. I feel it’s a good position for me, it allows me to utilise my total scope of talent and skill.
“With his experience and advice that he’s accumulated over years and years in the game, he added an extra dimension to our week.”
Graham said he thought Hunt looked “comfortable” in the centres alongside Samu Kerevi.
“He likes being in close to the action and he was involved quite heavily in both attack and defence,” he said.
“There are a few areas he’ll improve by playing there again and he’ll get the opportunity this weekend.”