Karmichael Hunt isn’t bothered if playing at fullback for Queensland might affect his chances of a potential Wallabies debut.
Despite the off-season recruitment of Japanese Test star Ayumu Goromaru, Hunt has emerged as Queensland’s first-choice custodian and has been one of the team’s most-effective players throughout the Reds’ woeful start to the Super Rugby season.
But with Israel Folau set in stone as Australia’s No.15 for the foreseeable future, fullback is not where Wallabies coach Michael Cheika, who has made no secret of his admiration for Hunt, would prefer to see him play.
Cheika has repeatedly claimed the triple-code star’s skill set is best suited to inside centre.
Hunt agreed when asked on Thursday where he thought he could be best deployed for the national team.
“Good question – I think my assets are probably (suited to being further) up in the front line, whether it be 12 or wherever,” he said.
Cheika is keen to rest his European-based players for the three-Test series against England in June, so a debut for Hunt is by no means outside the realms of possibility – not that the player himself is overly concerned about immediate representative prospects, given how badly the Reds are playing.
Reminded that 12 is where Cheika would prefer him, Hunt said: “I think he does, but that takes nothing away from what we’re trying to achieve here.
“I play wherever the team needs me and, right now, Matty and Stilesy want me to play 15. I don’t mind it.
“I don’t have any arguments with that. I go out there and try to do my best.”
Interim Reds co-coach Matt O’Connor has been staunch in his belief that Hunt belongs at fullback.
“He’s playing a lot of 15, so you’d have to think that’s where he’s best at the minute. Cheik can pick him wherever he likes,” O’Connor said.
Hunt appears to at least be in Cheika’s thinking, with the 29-year-old invited on the weekend to one of the coach’s mid-season Wallaby get-togethers.
These began last year as part of pre-World Cup preparations and were revived ahead of England’s visit in less than three months.
“I had a good chat to him,” Hunt said.
“He’s just telling me to keep trucking and keep trying to lead the boys up here.
“He understands as well, and I’m under no illusions – we need to be playing some good footy at club level before we even think about playing Wallabies.”