Hunt future unclear despite dropped drugs charge
KARMICHAEL Hunt is certain to face an independent code of conduct hearing to determine his future in rugby union despite Monday's police decision to drop a cocaine charge.
The cocaine charge was dropped on Monday because of lack of evidence but the level of proof needed for a finding of "bringing the code into disrepute” is considerable lower.
It is police fact that cocaine was found on the ground within metres of where Hunt was arrested in a Fortitude Valley car park in Brisbane on December 30.
Rugby Australia's new Integrity Unit chief Gerard McEvilly is expected to assemble a three-person code of conduct panel to dissect the Hunt case.
Weighing into the judgement will be the black mark following a guilty plea on four counts of possessing cocaine in 2015 when he has banned for five matches at the Queensland Reds and fined a total of $32,500.
Hunt's lawyer Adam Magill explained the Wallaby fullback's mood outside the Brisbane Magistrates Court after the cocaine charge was dropped and he received a fine for $600 on two minor charges.
"Relieved ... and it's all over,” Magill said outside court.
The Hunt dilemma is far from over.
He signed a new $1 million-plus contract late last year for 2018-19 and the collective will of rugby union to persevere with the troubled footballer has been strained to breaking point.
The significant "win” for Hunt was escaping without any conviction being recorded which would have thrown up brick walls to playing for clubs overseas.
"I think it's crucial for anyone that has the opportunity to travel overseas,” Magill said.
"We don't know what he's going to be doing but, obviously, any reported conviction can stifle that.”
Hunt's name last week appeared in The Rugby Paper, a bible for the code in the United Kingdom, where he was linked to clubs in France and England.
It would suggest his name is already being shopped around clubs in Europe for a possible move should his career in Australia be shut down or become too toxic.
He loved the lifestyle and anonymity of his brief stint with French club Biarritz in 2009-10 when he reached the Heineken Cup final in front of 78,000 fans in Paris.
Toulouse and Bordeaux have been mentioned as possible clubs with interest in Hunt.
Any training that Hunt has done over the past seven weeks has been isolated away from the Reds.
Both parties agreed he stand down from all team-related activities when he was arrested.
With the Reds focused on their opening Super Rugby clash against the Melbourne Rebels in Melbourne on Friday night, there is no chance of Hunt being allowed to ruffle the calm by reappearing at training at Ballymore this week.