Ablett Urges Karmichael to Hunt AFL Success

By Staff Writer    |    AFL   |   Jul 29, 2011 09:10 AM

Suns captain Gary Ablett has urged Karmichael Hunt to resist overtures from rugby league and remain with the Gold Coast club.

Speculation over Hunt’s future has intensified this week, not only with the second Brisbane rugby league team bid gathering momentum, but also after comments made by Suns coach Guy McKenna earlier in the week.

When it emerged that the Brisbane Bombers were chasing Hunt as a marquee signature for the 2013 season (Hunt’s first year out of his current contract) McKenna could not go so far as saying Hunt was a certainty to stay at the club saying ‘As the Broncos and NRL found out, things can change’.

And with the NRL negotiating a new television rights deal that could greatly increase the salary cap in the sport, there could be a massive offer just around the corner for Hunt to return to the sport in which he made a name for himself.

However Suns captain and former Brownlow medallist Gary Ablett has urged Hunt to stay put with the Suns, saying ‘he’ll play some fantastic footy over the next couple of years’.

“There were unfair expectations put on him at the start of the year. It was always going to take some time coming from another code into the AFL. But as each week as gone on he’s started to play better footy,” Ablett said.

“It’s great having him around. He works a lot with the younger boys, and he works as hard as anyone. He’s a good role model. He said he’d know what he’d like to do – commit to AFL football – and I think he will.”

Earlier in the week Hunt said he could not see him returning to rugby league any time soon.

“I can’t see myself returning to rugby league right now because the challenge of trying to become a quality AFL player is proving incredibly enjoyable for me.” Hunt said.

However as the Brisbane Bombers bid gathers momentum for the 2013 season, so do the rumours that Hunt will be making a return to the 13 a side code.

Rumours about Hunt’s future were not helped by the fact that he was dropped to reserve grade last weekend, however he has been named to make a return to the side against St Kilda this week at Metricon Stadium.

Hunt has impressed in recent time both in the AFL and in reserve grade when playing in the midfield, however McKenna said Hunt would more than likely return to defence against the Saints.

“He’s played ten per cent of his career for us in the midfield. The last game he played, our match ups down back were okay so we toyed with using him through the midfield,” coach Guy McKenna said.

“But ultimately I’m picking him as a defender.”

The Suns defence will have a slightly easier task against St Kilda this week after their captain and key forward Nick Riewoldt was ruled out through suspension.

However the Saints still have a forward line that boasts Justin Koschitzke, Stephen Milne and Adam Schneider.

Hunt will more than likely match up on Ryan Gamble or Sam Gilbert with Nathan Bock likely to get the job on Koschitzke.

Bock will be high on confidence after keeping Collingwood spearhead Travis Cloke to just two goals last weekend, despite the fact that Collingwood almost broke the record for inside 50 entries with 77. Bock’s effort prompted McKenna to nominate his key defender as an All-Australian prospect.

“He’s played on some big brutes and done a fantastic job. He has done so all year, and under duress too. Invariably in the first half of the season the ball was coming in on the forwards terms, not his,” McKenna said.

“I remember seeing him when he was in All-Australian form and he’s not far off that. Given the sided he’s in it’s an even better result I think. Defensive coach Dean Solomon sleeps very easy at night.”