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Melbourne Storm in the hunt for Karmichael Hunt

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Melbourne will attempt to become the first club to avail themselves of the NRL's new marquee contracting powers by attempting to bring Karmichael Hunt back to rugby league.

Hunt, with AFL club Gold Coast, is off contract at the end of the season. Storm powerbrokers met his management this week in the hope of luring the former Brisbane, Queensland and Australian custodian back to the game which made him famous.

Up until now, the NRL hasn't been able to compete financially with the AFL, where his annual salary is believed to be about $1 million after top ups from the AFL. However, the ARLC recently introduced a landmark change to the salary cap which will give CEO Dave Smith the power to personally intervene in order to retain or recruit marquee men in exceptional circumstances.

Karmichael Hunt's time at the Gold Coast Suns is coming to an end this year.

Karmichael Hunt's time at the Gold Coast Suns is coming to an end this year. Photo: Joe Armao

The NRL's chief operating officer, Jim Doyle, recently stated the new initiative will only apply to "once in every 10 years" players. While another code-hopper, Wallabies star Israel Folau, would qualify it remains to be seen whether Hunt fits that criteria. He has played 11 Tests and 10 Origins and also enjoyed a brief rugby stint for Biarritz Olympique before making the switch to the Suns.

Fairfax Media journalist Caroline Wilson has described Hunt's AFL stint as a "cynical dash for cash" and the 27-year-old has struggled to nail a first-team spot after injuries hampered him early in the season.

The Gold Coast Titans are on record as stating he is a player of interest, while a return to Red Hill is unlikely given the Broncos won the tug of war for the services of Canberra star Anthony Milford. But after missing out on Benji Marshall, the Storm see Hunt as turning the "big three" back into the "big four" should he line up alongside fellow Maroons Cameron Smith, Billy Slater and Cooper Cronk.

Karmichael Hunt is in the sights of the Melbourne Storm.

Karmichael Hunt is in the sights of the Melbourne Storm. Photo: Sebastian Costanzo

Ben Hampton has shown some promise in the No.6 jersey without cementing his spot and it's a role Hunt could fill, having worked on his kicking game in AFL. Storm coach Craig Bellamy also believes his ability to play a number of positions is a bonus.

Another plus for the Storm is Hunt's cousin, Hymel Hunt, joined the club this season after making his NRL debut for the Titans last year.

The Bulldogs are pleased with the form of Sam Perrett but remain open to the prospect of signing a star fullback recruit following the departure of Ben Barba. However, Canterbury chief executive Raelene Castle said the NRL's new marquee top-up powers didn't necessarily mean they would rush into the market.

"If you had the right player, yes. But I think everyone has gotten a little bit excited about what a 'marquee player' might actually mean," Castle said. "You would probably be lucky to name five players that would fit into that category of being game-changing and having that profile from a commercial perspective.

"We would only go to the NRL and have that discussion if we felt a player there was a player who fit that criteria."

10 comments so far

  • If Pearce plays it will definately be 9 in a row. An ordinary NRL halfback but a protected species (remember Anderson on the wing for Canterbury and McMahon as fullback for Balmain - both run of the mill players but sponsorerd into rep teams).

    Commenter
    John S
    Location
    Pyrmont
    Date and time
    May 15, 2014, 12:55PM
    • Wrong article sorry mate - there was no mention of Pearce.

      Commenter
      jmccar15
      Date and time
      May 15, 2014, 5:51PM
  • If the NRL is serious about growing League in Melbourne, the Storm need a fresh Marquee player. If they think Hunt will bring more people to the game then go for him.

    Aslo, though off topic, the NRL need to sort its scheduling out in Melbourne. No point having no games on free-to-air. The average punta doesn't have pay-tv.

    Commenter
    Craig
    Location
    AAMI
    Date and time
    May 15, 2014, 3:23PM
    • They had a marquee player in Glen Lazarus (Former team mate of the current coach). I can remember his try conversion in1999. Since then Melbourne has recruited well and been very competative. they haven't had the advantage of the generous salaty cap advantage and recruitmant advantage the AFL has given the Swans, Brisbane, Gold Coast and GWS. I'm proud of you Storm and always will be.

      Commenter
      Millsy
      Location
      Albury
      Date and time
      May 15, 2014, 5:50PM
    • Craig, dude, are you serious? Storm have about a dozen rep players (AU, NZ, and others) - not "marquee" enough for you? How many rep players do Cronulla, St George, Parra and Canberra have? About a dozen between them.

      Also there are 2 FTA games on a Friday night in Melbourne, and one on Sunday arvos.

      Commenter
      Al
      Location
      Melbs
      Date and time
      May 15, 2014, 6:22PM
    • Could you please go home Craig; I'm still trying to clean all the spit off the coaches box window. Honestly between you & Toovs on Saturday......it would be easier cleaning that carpet rug Pro Hart used for a painting !

      Commenter
      Coaches box cleaner !
      Location
      Inside AAMI
      Date and time
      May 15, 2014, 8:29PM
  • The marquee player scheme is a recipe for big clubs being favoured over others and players eeking more money out of other footy codes which perhaps is the idea. But its unclear how it would work in distorting the market and its impact on the salary cap....

    Commenter
    Hasta
    Date and time
    May 15, 2014, 4:16PM
    • The Storm needs a 5/8th. Hunt has been there done that. Grab him.

      Commenter
      Millsy
      Location
      Albury
      Date and time
      May 15, 2014, 5:22PM
      • Melbourne Storm should be banned from having the marque allowance for at least 10 years as punishment for cheating the cap and creating their own marque player allowance for 10 years illegally

        Commenter
        ParraEelGC
        Location
        Brisbane
        Date and time
        May 15, 2014, 5:53PM
        • Kudos to Karmichael, really gave it a shot and was pretty good. Hopefully, he will make it back in league and the AFL can stop wasting money on this sort of temporary insanity. The game will live and die on its own worth, not on 'marquee' players. Afterall, the VFL used to pride itself on being a sport for the people rather than being some 'event'.

          Commenter
          wear the fox hat
          Date and time
          May 15, 2014, 8:18PM

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