Voss' worries on Hunt defection - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Voss' worries on Hunt defection

By Adam Cooper 31/07/2009 07:09:54 PM Comments (0)

Brisbane Lions coach Michael Voss has warned the AFL that Karmichael Hunt's cross-code defection could bring with it the culture that almost destroyed rugby league.

Voss has hailed Hunt's decision to cross from the NRL to the AFL, from the Brisbane Broncos to the fledgling Gold Coast, as a major coup for Australian rules.

But as one of the AFL's most identifiable figures in Queensland, Voss fears Hunt's switch could be the first step in creating division within the AFL such as the ARU-Super League war did in rugby league in the 1990s.

Voss said Hunt's estimated $1 million contract to join the AFL, along with the possible introduction of free agency and the looming entry of two new teams (the Gold Coast and Western Sydney), could spark the code's first wage war.

He said while players would be the beneficiaries of any explosion in earnings, it could come at the expense of clubs' identities.

"The thing I can't help but feel is that AFL's culture has changed forever," Voss said on Friday.

"I really do believe that we've got to be careful that we don't move into the rugby Super League war where the beneficiaries were the players because they get more money, and that's of course a good thing for them.

"But what happened in rugby league was players got more money at the (expense), in some instances, of clubs' existences.

"That's something we've got to be very, very careful of.

"So I just say tread warily.

"We've been up there and we've gone through it and we know with potentially free agency coming in, two new teams coming in, with what seems to be a little bit of cash that's floating around, that can really lead to perhaps some habits that we don't want to see."

That concern aside, Voss said Hunt's signing was a "massive coup" for the AFL, and he hoped the sport could continue luring talented athletes from other sports.

Voss lends his name to AFL Queensland's scholarship program aimed at enticing young athletes to pursue Australian rules with the aim of being drafted by AFL clubs.

"I do know that we're pretty aggressive in making sure that we get the best available talent in any code and the AFL has a definite strategy around that in those northern states," he said.

"If that means we get the best athletes and we get to see them every single week then I think that's only for the benefit of our code in the long term."

Hunt has another year-and-a-half to hone his Australian rules skills before he lines up for the Gold Coast, who are set to enter the AFL in 2011.

But another high-profile former Brisbane player, Western Bulldogs star Jason Akermanis, said the Broncos star "is going to find it tough" and had a lot of work ahead of him to ready himself for a switch.

"I saw him kicking the ball yesterday, clearly he has a bit of work to do," Akermanis told radio station Nova.

"He is 92 kilos and 187cm roundabouts and you have to run more, but he hasn't learned that kind of stuff.

"He's played six games ... in a private-school competition which isn't a bad competition, but it's certainly nowhere near the week-to-week footy you can get from seven years old.

"So now he's a guy who's going to have a tremendous learning curve.

"Don't worry about the money and all that kind of stuff - he's got to find a way to play the game."

Akermanis also agreed Hunt's recruitment was a big coup for the AFL "up north".

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