Crazy twist as Hunt, Folau set for battle
If you told Karmichael Hunt four years ago he'd be coming to Canberra to play Australian football, he would have thought you were crazy.
But that's exactly what the Gold Coast Suns midfielder will do when he runs out against Greater Western Sydney at Manuka Oval on Saturday.
And to give the story that extra twist of insanity, he'll be playing against former Brisbane Broncos teammate Israel Folau.
The pair both signed multi-million dollar contracts to trade their Steedens in for Sherrins and have been making headlines ever since.
While it may have been unexpected, it is fitting Hunt is playing in Canberra, considering his last visit in 2009 was three days after he announced his switch to AFL.
It wasn't a happy visit, with the Raiders smashing the Broncos 56-0.
''I definitely didn't think I'd be coming to Canberra to play AFL. Most of the visits down to Canberra have been in a Broncos jersey and probably not some of my most memorable games in a Broncos jersey. One purely because it was always too cold when we turned up down there and the last outing I think we got thrashed 50 something to nil,'' he told The Canberra Times.
In what he called a ''spin out'', there's the outside chance Hunt could captain the Suns in just his second season in the game.
Four of the seven in the Gold Coast leadership group could miss the match through injury, including captain Gary Ablett (knee) and vice captain Nathan Bock (leg).
Ironically, it would leave Hunt as one of the most experienced Suns players on the field, although Michael Rischitelli could return from an ankle injury.
''I think Rischitelli might be another in but just depending on how he fares later in the week. It could be a possibility [that I captain] but I doubt that very much,'' Hunt said.
''It'd be a bit of a spin out for me but we'll see how it goes. I don't like my chances of wearing the captain's armband this weekend.''
Both Hunt and Folau have been widely criticised for their code switch and have been labelled gimmicks who would never amount to anything more than an expensive marketing ploy.
But Hunt is fast developing into an important cog in the Gold Coast engine room.
So much so that GWS coach Kevin Sheedy has floated the idea of tagging Hunt, in just his second season of AFL footy.
It's an idea Hunt finds flattering but doesn't think will happen.
That might depend on whether Gary Ablett - who completed most of the Suns' training yesterday - plays.
If he does, the Giants will be more concerned with stopping the game's best player, leaving Hunt to do as he pleases.
''I heard [about being tagged] for the first time before. I guess it is a compliment but whether it happens or not we'll have to see,'' he said.
Ablett has been an invaluable teacher for Hunt and you can see similarities in the way they attack the contested ball and are able to break free from heavy traffic.
''He's such a good player. Just by watching what he does at training or during a game has definitely helped me and I've continued to learn from him. He's been a great influence for our players,'' Hunt said.