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Hunt mounts injury comeback at Tens

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 11/02/2017 Vince Rugari

Queensland Reds coach Nick Stiles reckons there were flashes of the old Karmichael Hunt in his encouraging return from injury at the Brisbane Global Rugby Tens.

Playing for the first time since an ongoing groin issue flared up mid-last year, Hunt was hugely influential as the Reds drew 17-17 with the Blues in their opening match at Suncorp Stadium.

He didn't feature in their second game against the Crusaders, but came through the day physically unscathed and will look to build on his strong start on day two of the tournament on Sunday.

"I thought he was exceptional," Stiles said.

"He played really strongly, he carried the ball well, bounced to the outside a couple of times and beat some defenders, which was great to see again.

"It reminded me of some of his rugby league days out here for the (Queensland) Maroons.

"Didn't play him in the second game for the pure fact I wanted to see how some young guys like Jayden Ngamanu would step up.

"I think the lessons he can learn out of that is more than what we'd get out of playing K again this afternoon."

Hunt is off contract at the end of the year and needs a big season to have any hope of an extension, let alone a Test opportunity with the Wallabies.

The 30-year-old's current deal, which he signed when he switched from the AFL's Gold Coast Suns in 2014, is topped up by the Australian Rugby Union.

The Reds went on to lose 28-0 to the Crusaders as Stiles rested most of his other big names, including Samu Kerevi.

"People probably thought I was a bit crazy putting out our youngest side against such a fantastic team," Stiles said.

"But you want to challenge those young guys now and give them an opportunity.

"They've been working really hard for the last four or five months so to get an experience of playing the Crusaders is invaluable.

"What they'll take from that is the first half, they were really passive, and when you're passive against a side like the Crusaders, they hurt you badly."

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