Rugby Union

Stephen Larkham says more time needed to judge fly-half Karmichael Hunt

ACT Brumbies coach Stephen Larkham is impressed with how code hopper Karmichael Hunt has begun his Super Rugby career, but he's not convinced the former NRL and AFL footballer has what it takes to be a Wallaby.

Larkham was preparing for Karmichael Hunt to start at fly-half for the Queensland Reds in their season opener against the Brumbies at Canberra Stadium on Friday night.

stephen larkham
stephen larkham Photo: act\daniel.briggs

When it comes to No.10, Larkham is a good judge, having filled the role during the Brumbies' and Wallabies' golden eras about a decade ago.

He watched with interest Hunt's pre-season trial against All Black-laden Canterbury Crusaders on the weekend, with the former Brisbane Bronco and Gold Coast Sun assuming the playmaker role for the Reds for the first time.

Karmichael Hunt during the Queensland Reds pre-season clash with the Melbourne Rebels.
Karmichael Hunt during the Queensland Reds pre-season clash with the Melbourne Rebels. Photo: Getty Images

Larkham was impressed with what he saw, especially considering Dan Carter was his opposite number, and felt Hunt had done enough to claim the No.10 jersey for his Super Rugby debut.

"They've got some question marks over who is going to play 10, but Karmichael did a fantastic job on the weekend," he told Fairfax Media.


"I thought he was very good, he controlled the game very well. He has a very good kicking game, very good passing game and he's very confrontational in defence.

"It's a big ask to jump into 10 when you haven't played 10, particularly at Super Rugby level - that was an All Black-laden Crusaders team and they were obviously 28-0 at half-time with Karmichael playing 10 so he obviously controlled the game really well.

"We're expecting him to play there this weekend."

But Larkham felt it was too soon to predict whether Hunt would be able to replicate his efforts in rugby league and represent Australia.

Hunt played 125 games for the Broncos, represented Queensland 10 times and had 11 caps for the Kangaroos.

He also played 44 AFL games for the fledgling Suns before joining the Reds.

Larkham wants to see how he copes with the rigours of Super Rugby before he decides if he could play for the Wallabies.

"You don't necessarily want to talk that far ahead at this stage, both [Queensland and the Brumbies] would be focused on this weekend," Larkham said.

"He's put his best foot forward in his first game at Super Rugby intensity against the Crusaders outfit, who are very good.

"We'll have to wait and see how he goes throughout the season with his consistency, but he's certainly started well."

Brumbies utility back Robbie Coleman  was also impressed with Hunt's pre-season form, saying he was the Reds' best against the Crusaders.

If, as expected, Coleman runs out at fullback on Friday night, the Queanbeyan product said the Reds' kicking game would keep him on his toes.

"I thought Karmichael was really impressive at 10 ... they're going to probably have James O'Connor, who's going to come back and bolster them as well," Coleman said.

"They've got a really good kicking game so that's something if I do get selected at the back that I'm going to be wary of. I was really impressed with the Reds."


Friday: ACT Brumbies v Queensland Reds at Canberra Stadium, 7.40pm