Karmichael Hunt arrives at the Brisbane Magistrates Court on January 29 to face a charge of drug possession.
Karmichael Hunt arrives at the Brisbane Magistrates Court on January 29 to face a charge of drug possession. DAN PELED

Karmichael Hunt cleared to return

KARMICHAEL Hunt is free to play for the Queensland Reds but he has been fined $10,000 after the completion of Rugby Australia's investigation into his arrest late last year.

The probe found Hunt committed a "low-level breach” of RA's player code of conduct, according to a statement from the governing body.

He also was issued with a four-match suspension.

But the 31-year-old has already served that ban, having voluntarily stood down from all rugby duties since the December 30 incident in Brisbane's Fortitude Valley.

It means he is technically available for selection for this weekend's clash with the Stormers in Cape Town.

Hunt will also be placed on a 12-month testing program for illicit drugs and must undergo any drug treatment and education programs deemed necessary by RA.

However, it remains unclear when, or even if, Hunt will return to training with the Reds.

Reports from overseas in recent weeks suggest the triple-code star has been shopped around to European rugby clubs. It is understood the Queensland Rugby Union is heavily reluctant to welcome him back into the fold.

Whether coach Brad Thorn, who has overseen a remarkable turnaround in Queensland's Super Rugby fortunes this season, is eager to get Hunt back is another question.

QRU chief executive Richard Barker said yesterday: "Rugby Australia has run this investigation and has determined the penalties announced today.

"The QRU is working with Rugby Australia to understand the implications of today's announcement for the QRU.”

Hunt was fined $600 in total by a Brisbane court last month after pleading guilty to possessing Xanax and contravening a police direction.

Another charge of cocaine possession was dropped due to lack of evidence.

Hunt was fined $30,000, stripped of the Queensland vice-captaincy, suspended for six weeks and told to undergo counselling after pleading guilty to four counts of cocaine possession in 2015.

"We take all matters of off-field behaviour seriously,” RA CEO Raelene Castle said.

"In arriving at today's outcome, we've considered the judgment of the court and all the evidence we had available relating to Karmichael's arrest, as well as considering the damage that the very public nature of his arrest and the subsequent speculation has inflicted on the game.”

Hunt's $10,000 fine will be paid to the Australian Rugby Foundation and spent on community rugby initiatives.

- AAP



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