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Hunt on for another Hunt

By Wayne Heming 02/10/2009 09:01:06 PM Comments (0)

Players get nicknames for various reasons.

Departing Brisbane fullback Karmichael Hunt got his because he was "special" from day one.

It started out as "Special K" after his debut as the youngest ever Bronco at 17 in 2004.

By the last game he played - ironically in Melbourne where he hopes to make a impact as an AFL player following a bold career switch - he was simply known as "K".

For sports fans to know him by a single letter of the alphabet is a mark of what Hunt has achieved playing rugby league for Brisbane, Queensland and Australia.

Teammate Justin Hodges fought back tears as he hugged Hunt like a brother in an open show of emotion in the middle of Etihad Stadium following Brisbane's exit from the finals.

And one of game's all-time greats, Darren Lockyer, struggled to put into words what Hunt's courage and talent had meant to the Broncos.

But the person most affected by Hunt's code jump is coach Ivan Henjak, who has to replace a player whose uncanny relationship with both Hodges and Lockyer produced so many wonderful tries for Brisbane.

"We'll never replace K, there's not another K. We just may have to play a little differently without him," said Henjak who's spent the week reviewing player performances for 2009.

Denan Kemp, who scored 20-odd tries in 2008 on the wing, is back next season while youngsters Josh Hoffman, Dan Copley, Gerard Beale and even Corey Norman, an impressive schoolboy fullback, are in Henjak's thoughts for 2010.

"K's been such a big part of the way the Broncos have played and we have to work out who can help us keep playing that way," he said.

"If there's nobody, then we'll have to change our game up a bit and look at other ways to launch our attack.

"What we have to decide is do we want to have another K, someone who'll fly back into the defensive line and who can peel off the back and ball play like Karmichael.

"But K's courage?

"Josh Hoffman's got a lot of courage. I'm sure someone will step up."

Hunt was an exceptional rugby union talent before the late Cyril Connell lured him to the Broncos when St George Illawarra were circling.

He was a hit with fans from day, pitched into starting side against the Warriors by coach Wayne Bennett ahead of Kiwi international Motu Tony.

Not only was he so young, he had to replace the game's best No.1, Darren Lockyer, who Bennett had moved into a new role at five-eighth.

Despite being wiped out early that afternoon in a massive tackle, Hunt displayed the courage which was to become his trademark.

He played every game in 2004, ended the season as the club's leading tryscorer, including a record-equalling four in one game against South Sydney, and was named Dally M Rookie of the Year.

Now the challenge for him is proving critics wrong by becoming a force in the AFL with the Gold Coast in 2011.

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