O'Connor gets 'second chance' as Australian union bankroll Hunt capture

The ARU have revealed their financial assistance to the Reds in securing the former AFL and NRL player.

O'Connor was the Wallabies out-half against the Lions in 2013, but has not secured an ARU contract.
O'Connor was the Wallabies out-half against the Lions in 2013, but has not secured an ARU contract.
Image: Mal Fairclough

THE AUSTRALIAN RUGBY Union says it provided financial assistance to secure the services of code-hopping star Karmichael Hunt for the Queensland Reds from next season.

The Reds yesterday announced wayward international James O’Connor and Hunt had signed to play for the Reds in a boost for the struggling side, while also putting both players in the frame for next year’s World Cup.

After months of giving every indication it would not top-up any offer for former Australian Football League and National Rugby League man Hunt to join the Reds in Super Rugby, ARU boss Bill Pulver said the player was now on an ARU agreement.

The ARU did not disclose any further details of its contract with Hunt, although reports say he is commanding around $Aus600,000 (€427,000) a season.

Pulver did reveal that the ARU had pitched in for the deal while confirming it had not helped out financially with his new Reds teammate O’Connor.

O’Connor’s previous ARU contract was terminated last year following a series of off-field indiscretions.

I think (Hunt) is a very special player, the sort of player that comes along only every now and again,” Pulver told reporters.

“In the case of James O’Connor it’s entirely a Queensland rugby union contract.

“In the case of Karmichael Hunt, we have him on an Australian agreement working in tandem with Queensland Rugby Union.

Spain Heineken Rugby Cup Hunt had a stint with Biarritz before joining Gold Cost in the AFL. Source: AP/Press Association Images

“It was always absolutely clear that we would not be signing James up to an Australian contract at this point, having severed the relationship not so long ago.

“But everyone deserves a second chance; he’s a wonderful player.”

Pulver said O’Connor, who has played overseas for London Irish and French powerhouse Toulon since being cut loose by the ARU, could be considered for another ARU contract.

It will be a judgment call based on how things go both on and off the field,” Pulver said.

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Reds coach Richard Graham said he had not pressed O’Connor for a promise regarding his behaviour.

“I think people need to judge James by his actions when he arrives, it’s very easy to pre-judge him,” Graham said.

Graham said he views O’Connor as a winger and Hunt initially as a fullback, although he said former Australia rugby league international Hunt could also play at outside-centre and fly-half.

- © AFP, 2014

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