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24 Mar 2018 21:16
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  •   Home > News > Sports

    Returning Hunt eyes Bledisloe selection

    Karmichael Hunt will continue his comeback from ankle surgery for NRC side Brisbane City, with one eye on the next Bledisloe Cup clash.

    Karmichael Hunt is confident a much-improved Wallabies outfit can beat New Zealand in next week's rugby Test and that he can return to play a part.

    The utility will play the second game in his comeback from ankle surgery for National Rugby Championship outfit Brisbane City on Sunday, before he joins the Wallabies squad for Saturday week's Bledisloe Cup dead rubber.

    Hunt insisted he is ready to be thrown into battle if called on by Wallabies coach Michael Cheika despite only having 40 minutes of club rugby under his belt since surgery.

    "There were no lingering effects, no in-game effects (in the comeback game) and I'm definitely confident in where I'm at right now," Hunt said.

    "But is it the best preparation heading into a Test? I'd have to say no.

    "It's as best as I can be right now and I'll just get into camp and train hard."

    After playing his way into Cheika's first-choice side, Hunt was a late withdrawal from Australia's squad for the opening Bledisloe Cup clash in August.

    The All Blacks racked up their biggest score against their traditional rivals in that game, prevailing 54-34 after leading 54-6.

    Since then the Wallabies have beaten Argentina twice, drawn twice with South Africa, and came within minutes of a rare Bledisloe Cup win on New Zealand soil in a heartbreaking 35-29 Dunedin defeat.

    Hunt will press his case for selection when Brisbane play Melbourne Rising at a suburban rugby ground 3km from Suncorp Stadium, where he believes Australia can prevail over the world No.1.

    "The group that you see now, compared to the group you saw in game one in Sydney is chalk and cheese," Hunt said.

    "I can see from an outside view there is a belief in the style of play and players that are playing at the moment.

    Hunt will play at inside centre, with Wallabies bench weapon Samu Kerevi at outside centre on Sunday in a play-off of sorts for a Wallabies utility spot.

    Cheika said Hunt's inclusion was not a formality, but indicated that his ability to play a number of positions, including fullback, was in his favour.

    "I wouldn't expect it; we'll see how he plays this weekend in NRC and how he goes at training," the coach said.

    "In the last camp in June, he pretty much forced his way into the team in the first week of training. I wouldn't have had him pencilled in (before that).

    © 2018 NZN, NZCity

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