Hunt is on for Lismore AFL trial
FORMER Broncos and Queensland State of Origin rugby league fullback Karmichael Hunt could play AFL in Lismore if the Gold Coast Football Club gets its wish to bring a pre-season game to the Northern Rivers.
Hunt was signed by the new AFL club last year on a three-year contract after he announced his decision to quit the NRL. He is set to complete an amazing tri-code journey when he joins his team-mates after his sojourn in French rugby union ends in May.
The GCFC, this year playing in the VFL ahead of its entry into the AFL in 2011, will be right in the middle of its first AFL pre-season this time next year.
Gold Coast coach Guy McKenna is keen to have Hunt in the team on his return to Australia and to get as many games under his belt in preparation for his AFL debut.
The club will dip its toe in the Northern Rivers next month when it visits Lismore and Ballina as part of the AFL’s Community Camps; its first major step into the region in its bid to build support here.
The GCFC has welcomed the opportunity to play a pre-season match in the region from next year.
“We’re certainly interested (in playing in Lismore),” GCFC spokesman Greg Price said.
“There has been strong support for an AFL team on the Gold Coast from the Northern Rivers and we intend to give that support back.
“We’re very aware of (AFL) interest in the region; it has a healthy and active Aussie Rules community there and we intend to embrace it.”
Price said the GCFC will leave it to the AFL to schedule its 2011 pre-season.
“It really is up to AFL scheduling where we play those matches,” he said.
The AFL’s annual pre-season competition awards $350,000 to the winner and $160,000 to the runner-up.
First-, second- and third-round losers play trial games in regional areas, which in the past have included centres such as Alice Springs (NT), Bunbury (WA), Port Lincoln (SA) and Cairns (Queensland). This is where Lismore could figure.
Any AFL pre-season match on the Northern Rivers would have to be at Lismore’s Oakes Oval, the region’s premier sporting ground. Its dimensions are certainly adequate, with the Summerland AFL competition having played there in the past.
With NRL and Super 14 rugby union trials having been played in Lismore, AFL and A-League soccer pre-season matches would complete the football set.