Rugby: Cheika launches impassioned Karmichael Hunt defence

Code-hopping Karmichael Hunt is set to become Australia's fourth dual-code international since 2001. Photo / Getty
Code-hopping Karmichael Hunt is set to become Australia's fourth dual-code international since 2001. Photo / Getty

Wallabies coach Michael Cheika has launched an impassioned defence of Karmichael Hunt, saying sticking by the code-hopper through his drugs controversy last year was the right thing to do.

Hunt stands to become a dual international if, as expected, he makes his Australia debut in the series opener against England at Suncorp Stadium on June 11.

But there were many who felt the 29-year-old should have been kicked out of the sport when he became embroiled in a cocaine scandal last year, staining his previously lilywhite image as a popular athlete who had already conquered two other codes.

Cheika says he understands those contrary viewpoints, but he believes society as a whole should be more forgiving of people like Hunt, who acknowledge their mistakes and genuinely try to move on.

"Forgiveness is also a very Christian value too," Cheika told reporters.

"I certainly know I'm always forgiving my kids because they're driving me mad.

"Isn't the logic to try and help guys to get over errors they make?

"That's what we're doing every day, technically, and that's what we're trying to do in life. "Part of the growth of this team is about being better people as well.

"The guy's working on himself to be better, like we all are."

Hunt's early contribution to the Wallabies' camp on the Sunshine Coast has been limited due to a groin strain he has been unable to shake for some weeks.

But the injury won't put him in any doubt for the first Test and with Cheika a noted fan, and openings likely at inside centre or fullback, as well as the utility spot on the bench, it's anticipated Hunt will become Australia's fourth dual code international since 2001.

- AAP

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