20 Feb 2018

Hunt avoids drugs conviction

5:23 am on 20 February 2018

Karmichael Hunt won't be permitted to resume training with the Queensland Reds despite dodging a conviction for drug possession.

Karmichael Hunt

Karmichael Hunt Photo: PHOTO NZ

The 31-year-old's future remains in the hands of Rugby Australia, who say they have "resumed" an investigation into his conduct after prosecutors dropped a cocaine charge against him in court yesterday.

A statement from Rugby Australia said Hunt would continue his "voluntary stand- down" from all rugby duties until the matter is resolved.

It means his playing career is still in limbo, with the national governing body a chance of tearing up his contract for bringing the game into disrepute.

Hunt has not trained with the Reds since his arrest on December 30 in Brisbane's Fortitude Valley.

But he has been keeping fit at a Brisbane boxing gym alongside fellow Reds exile Quade Cooper, who is out of favour and has been told not to come to training based on performance reasons.

Hunt pleaded guilty to possessing alprazolam - a tablet of Xanax - and to contravening a police direction after failing to attend a police station when required to give fingerprints. He was handed a $600 fine.

The cocaine charge was formally dropped due to a lack of evidence.

But the fact he avoided a conviction is significant and means he can not only travel with the Reds to play overseas matches, but he can also play in France or Japan - countries which deny entry to convicted drug users.

With the Queensland Rugby Union having lost all faith in Hunt after his second major off-field indiscretion in three years, a shift abroad is firming as a likely outcome.

However, because he falls a long way short of the 60-cap 'Giteau law', any departure from Australian rugby would spell the end of his brief Test career.

Hunt showed promise in his five appearances for Australia last year and appeared bound for 2019 World Cup selection.

His player profile has seemingly been removed from the Wallabies squad section on rugby.com.au, but is still accessible via an internet search.

While he is still contracted to the Reds for another two seasons, the recent recruitment of fullback Aidan Toua indicates coach Brad Thorn is prepared for life without Hunt.

UK outlet The Rugby Paper reported interest last week from French Top 14 clubs Bordeaux and Toulouse and English sides Sale Sharks and Worcester Warriors.

Hunt has already played in Europe, having spent a season with Biarritz Olympique in 2009-10 prior to linking up with the AFL's Gold Coast Suns.

-AAP