The Ewen McKenzie chat that lured Special K
GLAMOUR recruit Karmichael Hunt has revealed a private chat he had in a Gold Coast hotel room with then-Wallaby coach Ewen McKenzie played a major part in his decision to turn his back on the Broncos and sign a long-term deal to play for the Queensland Reds.
Ironically, McKenzie dropped a bombshell by stepping down from his post three days ago after Australia's 29-28 heartbreaking loss to the All Blacks.
The Australian Rugby Union is expected to confirm Waratahs mentor Michael Cheika will replace McKenzie in the top job in time to join the team on the tour of Europe at the end of this week.
Hunt, set to complete his Australian sporting code triumvirate of rugby league, AFL and now rugby union for the Reds, said a 60-minute heart-to-heart with McKenzie at Sanctuary Cove earlier this year had convinced him he was making the right decision by again switching codes.
Queensland coach Richard Graham had started the ball rolling six months earlier, with a chance text to Hunt who was considering his future following a rough time with injuries while playing AFL for the Gold Coast.
The 27-year-old has also played 125 NRL games for the Brisbane Broncos (2005-2009).
He is not completely new to rugby, having played 15 games with French club Biarritz Olympique (2009-10) before accepting a massive offer from the AFL to join its expansion club based on the Gold Coast.
While he showed plenty of potential in his four years with the Suns, especially in season 2012 when he excelled in the midfield, the past two seasons were made difficult by a constant battle with injuries.
Asked if McKenzie had played a part in his decision to make rugby his next personal challenge, Hunt said their conversation and McKenzie's philosophies had impacted strongly on him at the time.
"I caught up with him (McKenzie) at Sanctuary Cove and had a really good chat with him," said Hunt, who is keen to win selection in Queensland's side for its opening Super Rugby game next season.
"I really enjoyed his take on rugby and his thoughts on how the game should and shouldn't be played.
"We chatted for about an hour in his room.
"It was in the middle of my discussion (with Graham) about me coming to rugby and making my decision about this year and beyond.
"It was reinforcement. It made it easier for me to come back to rugby after having that chat, along with the chats I had been having with Richard."
Hunt said McKenzie had expressed a strong opinion that if he did make the switch, he could play for the Wallabies in next year's World Cup.
"He was very positive (about that)," Hunt said.