Hunt barred from training with Reds

Karmichael Hunt has been barred from training with his Queensland Reds teammates until he faces drug-related charges in court next week.

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But the Super Rugby franchise has stopped short of standing down the cross-code star, and has chosen to keep him on a “modified” training regime.

The Reds announced earlier on Monday that Hunt would not be considered for selection for their clash with the Highlanders on Friday night.

“He won’t be training with the team in this next period of time,” Graham said.

“We’ll certainly keep him on a modified program but that’s more to do with his strength and conditioning, and keeping him ticking over.”

Hunt was last week issued with a notice to appear in the Southport Magistrates Court on Thursday, March 5, where he will answer to allegations he arranged to supply cocaine for personal use or to be passed on to friends or colleagues.

Gold Coast Titans players Beau Falloon and Jamie Dowling will appear in court on the same day, while representative stars Greg Bird and Dave Taylor, together with winger Kalifa Faifai Loa, will appear on March 9.

All five Titans players have been officially stood down and put on notice by the NRL club, but it’s clear the Reds are taking a far more cautious approach with Hunt.

Graham said he was comfortable with the course of action taken by the Queensland Rugby Union, given the period in question was between September 1 to October 3 last year – when Hunt was still with the AFL’s Gold Coast Suns.

“I think it’s pretty clear that the incident happened in another sport and we’ve inherited it, as such,” he said.

“Anyone that read the report last week understands the timeline. At that point Karmichael wasn’t with us at all.

“I don’t believe it’s going to be a wider issue within our team.”

The Reds will make further decisions about their star recruit’s future after Hunt’s day in court.

Graham said he was yet to discuss Hunt’s new “modified” program directly with the player, and it’s unclear whether the 28-year-old will be permitted to come to Ballymore or be forced to train elsewhere.

But Graham said he had offered Hunt his full support.

“I feel strongly that everyone should be supported through things like this,” he said.

“I think we’ve made the best decision in the interests of Karmichael.

“And I think we’ve made a very good decision in the interests of the team and the organisation.”

The Reds, who pushed aside Hunt’s crisis to defeat the Western Force on Saturday night, have a short turnaround this week ahead of Friday’s clash with the Highlanders in Dunedin.

The injury-crippled team will get just two opportunities to train together before leaving for New Zealand.

But skipper James Slipper is confident Queensland’s Super Rugby campaign will not be derailed.

“It’s a distraction in a sense … but as a playing group, the way we played on the weekend was with a lot of character and pride,” he said.

“We addressed it last week briefly and we’re just trying to move on.”

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