Karmichael Hunt has described his cocaine scandal as a “blessing in disguise” as he prepares to return from suspension with the Queensland Reds.
The code-hopping star returned to full training with the Super Rugby outfit on Monday but is not available for selection until next week’s clash with the Melbourne Rebels.
Hunt said he would be a “better man” for the experience he has gone through, which included copping a six-week ban from playing and training with his teammates after pleading guilty to four counts of possessing cocaine in September and October last year.
“In a weird way, it was kind of like a blessing in disguise,” he said.
“Everything that’s happened has kind of forced my hand to look at myself and make some harder decisions to correct my behaviour.
“That’s been done now and I’m thankful for it, as much disappointment and hard work it’s caused the organisation, my family, fans, friends – you name it.
“I look forward to learning from it, moving on and being a better man because of it.”
On top of his suspension, Hunt was stripped of the team’s vice-captaincy, fined $30,000 by the Reds and $2500 by the Southport Magistrates Court and was ordered to go through drug counselling.
Hunt said he would continue to see a psychologist to explore exactly what triggered his decision to turn to cocaine as part of an end-of-season celebration after finishing his commitments with the AFL’s Gold Coast Suns last year.
“I thought I looked after myself as good as I could but obviously there’s a part at the end of the year where I’d like to withdraw myself,” Hunt said.
“I have made a pact to my friends and family that I won’t be venturing down that path again.
“Everyone will probably see my situation, what I’ve gone through and maybe take a lesson out of it.”
Meanwhile, Hunt has not completely given up hope of representing Australia at this year’s Rugby World Cup.
Hunt revealed he maintained contact with Wallabies coach Michael Cheika throughout his suspension period.
“I don’t want to give too much away but I just sent an e-mail to Cheik saying I want to focus on my return to the Reds and getting some good football under my belt before I get back involved with what he’s trying to do with the Wallabies,” he said.
“It starts today. Next week I can play some football and I look forward to putting some good performances in.
“If I’m there at the end of the year I’m there, but that’s a long way away at the moment.”