SYDNEY (Reuters) - The New South Wales Waratahs' decision to take a chance on Karmichael Hunt looks to be paying off already after the back delivered a solid performance in their Super Rugby opener, assistant coach Simon Cron has said.
The Waratahs handed the 32-year-old a one-year contract last month, giving him the chance to revive his career after he was frozen out at the Queensland Reds for an off-field indiscretion at the tail-end of 2017.
Hunt had picked up a four-match ban and A$10,000 (£5,517.5) fine from Rugby Australia last year after he escaped conviction for possession of a prescription anxiety disorder medication.
Despite being out of Super Rugby for a year and having the briefest of pre-seasons, Hunt did not look out of place against the Wellington Hurricanes on Saturday, impressing in a 20-19 loss at Brookvale Oval.
"He's pretty solid, both defensively and in attack," Cron told reporters at Waratahs training on Tuesday. "He's really good in contact, he makes that first hit and then keeps going, which is great for us.
"If anyone gets on the ball in that midfield he cleans out really hard. All his contact zone stuff is brilliant, and that's important for us, both in attack and defence.
"He's been a great addition."
Hunt was teamed up with returning Wallabies veteran Adam Ashley-Cooper in the midfield for the game against the Hurricanes but will link up with Kurtley Beale against the Sunwolves in Tokyo on Saturday.
Ashley-Cooper suffered a head injury against the Hurricanes and was undergoing Rugby Australia's return-to-play protocols, Cron said.
"He will probably come over (with) us, but I think he is going through medical to make sure he is still ok," Cron added. "I would suggest he may just be a travelling extra."
Hunt would move to centre -- he started at inside centre last week -- to accommodate Beale, who appears more comfortable in the number 12 jersey.
Cron had no doubts that Hunt, who also played international rugby league and top-class Australian Rules, would be able to slot in to a variety of roles for the Sydney-based side.
"As you saw from Karmichael's game at the weekend, he'll add a lot, wherever he plays for us," Cron said.
Wallabies prop Sekope Kepu, who suffered a throat injury in the opening match and had to be replaced, is likely to be available for the Sunwolves game.
Cron said the Waratahs would look to be more clinical than they were against the Hurricanes.
"The boys are pretty gutted," Cron added.
"We had a few opportunities where we should have capitalised and won that. But we didn't, so now it is about what we need to fix and get better at."
(Reporting by Greg Stutchbury in Wellington; Editing by Peter Rutherford)