BRISBANE // The Australia international rugby league fullback Karmichael Hunt has signed a three-year deal to switch codes and play Australian Rules football (AFL) from next year. Hunt, who played 11 Tests for Australia, will leave National Rugby League (NRL) club the Brisbane Broncos at the end of the season and will join a new Gold Coast-based team in the Australian Football League in Mat 2010.
The Gold Coast outfit will join the AFL from the 2011 season. Hunt, 22, will become the first rugby league international to play Australian Rules at the highest level in Australia. The two football codes bear little resemblance and require very different skills to play. "I just thought it was time for a new challenge," Hunt said. "It's an exciting time in my life and I'm looking forward to 2011.
"If I had to leave Brisbane then I preferred to change codes rather than change teams, as I did not want to play against the Brisbane Broncos. For me this is about the challenge of playing AFL at the highest level." Hunt played Australian Rules as a teenager in Brisbane and attracted the attention of AFL scouts before making his rugby league debut for the Broncos aged 17 in 2004. His existing contract with the Broncos expires this year and terms of his new contract with Gold Coast have not been revealed.
The Gold Coast coach Guy McKenna said he believed Hunt had the skills to make the transition to the AFL. "Seeing how he moves, seeing how he hits, he's going to bring another dimension to an AFL football team," McKenna said. "Powerful, strong, quick and probably averages 23 tackles in a game. We're lucky to average 40 in a whole side. He's built for that, built for the physical demands of AFL football."