In a decision that has rocked the rugby league world, Brisbane star Karmichael Hunt has announced that he will switch codes and join AFL side Gold Coast.
The 22-year-old fullback will join the club for it’s debut season in 2011 after negotiating a deal reportedly worth $1 million.
It is likely that Hunt will supplement his income with a stint playing rugby union in Europe before joining up with Gold Coast next year.
The Auckland-born Queensland Origin star was approached by Gold Coast’s AFL recruiting coach Scott Clayton in February.
“When I heard it I thought it was a bit of a joke,” Hunt told a packed press conference yesterday.
“It was serious. I let it sit with me for a while.”
Hunt’s enthusiasm for the proposal was boosted after an informal kick about with AFL stars Nathan Buckley and Jason McCartney
“I was always confident in myself, but hearing the reassurance from those two legends of the game, and obviously Scotty Clayton, who is regarded as one of the best talent scouts in the game, was one of the turning points for me,” Hunt said.
Hunt’s defection has signalled the start of a war of between the two codes but NRL Chief Executive David Gallop, says there is no need to panic.
It “doesn’t mean the sky is falling” in on rugby league,” Gallop told AAP
“Rugby league is in a very strong position in many areas, Queensland and the Gold Coast in particular, and I am sure that we will maintain and grow that strength regardless of this announcement.”