The Waratahs finally unveiled the signing of controversial outcast Karmichael Hunt from the Queensland Reds on Monday, after months of speculation. The club confirmed the signing of the 32 year-old from the Reds via their website as a part of a player swap deal, in which fly-half Bryce Hegarty will join the Reds.
Hunt endured a rocky spell last year in Queensland as he was cast aside by Reds coach Brad Thorne after being caught with Xanax during a night out in Brisbane’s Fortitude Valley. He was then forced to play Brisbane Premier Rugby alongside fellow outcast Quade Cooper.
The 32 year-old also served a 4 game-ban and was fined $30,000 back in 2015 after being arrested for supplying cocaine alongside Titans Rugby League player Beau Fallon after an investigation on cocaine use on the Gold Coast.
Despite his colourful past though, NSW Waratahs head coach Daryl Gibson is convinced that Hunt is a reformed character and deserves the “second chance” the Waratahs are giving him. He said:
“Karmichael has been very open and genuine with us about his off-field issues and his desires to turn things round, not only professionally but personally.”
Capped 6 times by the Wallabies in 2017, Hunt is a diverse player that can play in multiple positions and will provide the Waratahs with the much needed depth they need as well as that extra bit of quality. Gibson added:
“One of the findings out of 2018 season review is that we played our best players too much. Our strategy was that we needed to improve the depth of our squad and Karmichael helps us with that.”
During the announcement the full-back said that he was “excited” by the prospects of a fresh start in Sydney after spending most of his sporting career living in Queensland. He added:
“It means a lot that Daryl and the Waratahs have decided to give me another go, I’m ready to take this opportunity with both hands. I’m always the first to admit that I’ve made mistakes. But the time away from the sport has been the most important thing that has happened to me.”
Highlanders Sign All Blacks Youngster
The Highlanders have confirmed their first signing for the 2020 Super Rugby season
The 20-year-old has signed a two-year contract with the franchise and is so far only one of two confirmed outside backs in the squad for next season along with Josh McKay.
He has been a part of the New Zealand U20 World Championship squad for the past two years and played a vital role in the nations Sevens team during the 2018/19 World Series.
Having debuted for in the Mitre 10 Cup in 2018 for Northland and has become known for his speed and will be a welcome addition to the Highlanders following the mass exodus of players at the end of last season.
Come the end of the season the franchise confirmed that a total of 12 players would be departing them including All Blacks Ben Smith, Waisake Naholo, Liam Squire, Luke Whitelock and Jackson Hemopo.
As well as them there is a huge loss of Super Rugby experience in Matt Faddes who is set to join Ulster for the 2019/20 season.
Most of the players are heading overseas in order to receive improved contracts in what is becoming an increasing problem for Southern Hemisphere nations.
The Highlanders finished the 2019 season with a quarter-final loss to eventual winners the Crusaders and with all the departures it is expected that Gregory will be the first of many new faces through the door.
Wallabies Star Signs New Contract
The Wallabies have secured the services of one of their key men until after the 2023 Rugby World Cup
Wallabies prop Taniela Tupou has signed a new four-year contract with both Rugby Australia and Queensland Rugby Union.
Tupou nicknamed the ‘Tongan Thor’ has shone for both the Wallabies and the Queensland Reds in recent times and his new contract ensures that he will remain in the country until after the 2023 Rugby World Cup in France.
The tight-head prop is delighted to have been offered the opportunity to continue on both fronts and believes the best is yet to come from him.
“I’m very excited to sign for the next few years. Queensland and Australia offered me the first opportunity out of school and I feel I have more to do to repay that faith. I only started playing consistently in the last two or three years, so I think there’s still more for me to offer in Australia for the Reds and Wallabies,” he said.
Tupou is almost certain to head to Japan when the World Cup squad is announced and is hoping to earn his right to wear the jersey long after the tournament, while he is also excited by the young talent that is coming through the Queensland system.
“We have a really good young group in Queensland who have been working hard the last few years and I know we’re heading in the right direction. I love playing for Australia. Obviously growing up as a kid, watching them, and now being able to pull on the jersey is an honour. To know that I will be here for the next four years is exciting because it means I may have the opportunity to pull on the jersey again if I continue to work hard,” he added.
Having made his debut for the Aussies in 2017 Tupou has gone on to impress at both international and domestic level, winning the Australian Super Rugby Player of the Year in 2018.
It comes as a boost to the Wallabies who have been losing talent overseas recently, but after Saturday’s win over the All Blacks things could be on the up if more follow Tupou’s lead.
Waratahs Hooker Extends Stay
The Waratahs have been boosted ahead of next year’s Super Rugby campaign with one of their most experienced players committing to the franchise’s cause
It will be Fitzpatrick’s ninth campaign with the NSW, and he admits he is just delighted to continue playing for the team he loves.
“Playing for the Waratahs is what I truly love doing, so any opportunity to continuing to do what you love and are passionate about is something I’m grateful for. The unknown is exciting. A new-look squad under a new coach can bring endless possibilities and I’m looking forward to what lies ahead for the Waratahs,” he said.
The 30-year-old left for three seasons with Lyon in 2013 and was part of the squad that earned promotion. He returned to the Waratahs in 2016 signing a two-year deal and has earned the extension due to his strong showings throughout this year’s campaign.
He will not play any National Rugby Championship matches however after agreeing to take a short-term contract overseas between now and the 2020 Super Rugby pre-season.
Fitzpatrick is the second experienced Waratah to extend their stay with the franchise this week after Wallaby Kurtley Beale signed on for next season too.
Both will be welcome re-signings with many players heading abroad for more lucrative deals including star names such as Bernard Foley and Sekope Kepu who are both leaving the franchise this year.
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