If the AFL had a most improved player award, Karmichael Hunt would be a clear front-runner. Hunt is rapidly developing into a competitive footballer this season.
His move into the midfield has really revitalised his playing style.
Here is a guy who grew up tackling and getting hardball gets playing rugby, and who is growing more accustomed to the Aussie Rules game play with each round.
Hunt has the toughness and tenacity halfway between Jonathan Brown and Joel Selwood: relentless on the ball and brutal when tackling.
The move onto the ball is genius in design; you have a strong fit player with developing skills smashing into packs and giving the ball out to the best player in the game, Gary Ablett.
Hunt is fast developing his own tough, scrappy type of football that will earn plenty of respect within the AFL. Anyone who has seen some of his tackles will agree with that.
Hunt’s stats from last season to this season back up his perceived rise in form.
2011 – 16 games
2012 – 5 games
Kicks – 51
Kicks – 23
Handballs – 81
Handballs – 51
Disposals – 132
Disposals – 74
Marks – 29
Marks – 11
Clearances – 9
Clearances – 14
Tackles – 27
Tackles – 17
Goals – 1
Goals – 0
After five games in 2012, the statistics clearly show a marked improvement. Hunt is now working well in the middle of the ground, racking up respectable possessions, and if he performs well when Gold Coast do break the drought, you could see him taking home a vote or two at the Brownlow medal.
The real positives are his clearance work, which is up, along with high tackle rates and handballs. He is on course now to have a brilliant season compared to 2011.
Brad Scott, a player known for his tough style of play, was quoted on goldcoast.com.au as saying, “Anyone who has criticised Karmichael Hunt over the journey should be eating their words and should be apologising to him because, on that performance, he’s a bona fide AFL midfielder.”
This from a player many thought could not survive in AFL, or who at best could be a moderately good forward or defender where his vulnerability to 360-degree play might be reduced.
Instead, he has gone headlong into one of the most demanding positions on the field, and is doing it with aplomb.
Hopefully he continues this good form and develops into a well rounded AFL player.