Rugby league star Karmichael Hunt signs with the Gold Coast AFl club.
Rugby league star Karmichael Hunt signs with the Gold Coast AFl club. Scott Powick/Tweed Daily News

Hunt signing 'desperate': Cullen

BRISBANE Broncos boss Bruno Cullen believes Karmichael Hunt's jaw-dropping defection smacks of desperation by the fledgling Gold Coast AFL club.

Cullen stressed he did not want to criticise Hunt or the expansion club, but felt the Coast's inability to lure a high-profile AFL player contributed to the left-field deal.

Gold Coast failed in their well-publicised attempts to sign St Kilda star Nick Riewoldt as their foundation captain as well as fellow Coast products Sam Gilbert, also of St Kilda and North Melbourne's David Hale.

Cullen pointed out the representative league fullback's three-year deal with the fledgling Gold Coast AFL franchise single-handedly turned the publicity tide for the new club.

“They have missed out on some of the high-profile players in their code they have been chasing, the Nick Riewoldts and the like,” Cullen said.

“They might have been getting to desperation stakes to a degree, this might be a little bit cheeky (to say), to have that high-profile individual to come in and help sell that game.

“And they have gone outside their own code to do that.

Hawthorn's Jarryd Roughead is the most recent big-name player to turn down interest from Gold Coast, who debut in the AFL in 2011.

It would be difficult for the 17th club to parade a star AFL signing as the team's first high-profile player more than 18 months before their inaugural AFL campaign.

But Hunt's signing does give the Coast the Queensland-specific selling tool they missed when former Lions captain Michael Voss passed on a chance to be their inaugural coach.

“It's a public relations coup for the AFL and they will make every use of it, particularly down there,” Cullen said.

Despite taking a $1.2 million offer over three years off the table for Hunt in March, he certainly didn't see it coming.

“It's the biggest left-field hit I've ever taken,” he said.

Cullen was also surprised Hunt is set to have a six-month stint in rugby overseas instead of preparing for his AFL transition with a full pre-season to improve his running endurance.

But he stressed there was no hard feelings from Broncos officials and players.

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