AFL boss denies recruitment war with NRL - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

AFL boss denies recruitment war with NRL

By Adrian Warren 29/07/2009 07:29:27 PM Comments (0)

AFL boss Andrew Demetriou says his code's acquisition of rugby league star Karmichael Hunt doesn't signal the start of a recruitment war between Australia's biggest football codes.

Speaking at a Sydney hotel, Demetriou says the circumstances surrounding Hunt's decision to play for the Gold Coast AFL franchise starting up in 2011 were unique.

Asked if the signing represented the declaration of a war between the two big football codes Demetriou said: "It certainly won't be for us.

"We've got a unique set of circumstances here and he is a player who has played our game and he's a player who doesn't want to play against his (Brisbane NRL) team mates and a person who wants to live in Queensland.

"And a new club entering the market that's looking for talent. Those things don't happen that often."

Demetriou said he hadn't considered the possibility of any retaliatory recruiting raids by rugby league clubs.

"I guess it could happen, you'd have to ask the players, but it's not something I spent much time thinking about."

Aware of some negative off-field publicity Hunt has attracted, Demetriou expressed he had no reservations about the player's character after speaking to him and people who knew the multi-talented footballer.

"We've addressed all those issues," Demetriou said.

"We're very very comfortable with the responses we were given and he's more than welcome and will be welcomed with open arms to our code."

He described Hunt as an elite athlete and an impressive talent and as one who had gotten away from the code after being initially identified as an emerging star by the code's talent identifiers.

"I was incredibly impressed by the sort of person that he was and also by his desire and what has actually motivated him," Demetriou said.

The AFL chief executive said Hunt would definitely play the game at some level next year, either in the Queensland Football league (QFL) or the AFL.

He expressed no reservations about Hunt playing rugby prior to starting his Australian Rules career.

"It wasn't an issue for us. People can protect people too much, I think athletes need to play," Demetriou said.

"You can wrap them up in cotton wool but they can fall over in the bath tub, they can get hurt at training.

"Elite athletes need competition, it's the competition that drives them.

"I think it will be good for him that he's playing rugby and good luck to him."

Demetriou said he wouldn't be surprised if Hunt decided to try his hand at the elite level of another sport after Australian Rules.

NSW-ACT AFL boss Dale Holmes didn't rule out the new Western Sydney franchise making a similar left-field signing to Hunt in the lead up to its inaugural season in 2012.

"You would certainly look at it if you could find the right person who could make the transition and who has had some background in the game as a kid growing up," Holmes said.

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