Why Eddie Jones' NRL recruitment drive is a 'winner'
Dual-international Karmichael Hunt says South Sydney skipper Cameron Murray would make a handy No.7 in Rugby Union and has thrown his weight behind Wallabies coach Eddie Jones’ targeting of top-end NRL talent.
Former Kangaroos and Wallabies star Hunt, who also played AFL for Gold Coast, is of the view that Sydney Roosters prodigy Joseph-Aukuso Suaalii is more likely to make the switch as part of Jones’ bid to return the Wallabies to No.1 in the world.
Suaalii has signed with the Tricolours until the end of 2024, while Murray – a schoolboy rugby star at Newington College – is on contract until the end of 2025 at the Rabbitohs but has said he would be prepared to talk to Jones after that.
“Without knowing Cameron personally, I am sure he is going to keep his options open as every smart player would do,” Hunt told AAP.
“But as a captain of a great club, a Test player, I would be surprised if he goes across.
“I will definitely be keen to watch if he does.”
Murray has been talked about as an option in the centres for the Wallabies, but Hunt said the 25-year-old’s talents may lie in a different direction.
“He would make a good No.7,” Hunt said.
“I know he is as tough as [long-time Wallabies flank] Michael Hooper.
“I have played with Hooper and I know one thing Cameron would probably do well is chasing a breakdown and putting his head over and trying and get a pilfer.”
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Suaalii was a gun fullback for The King’s School first XV and by signing one-year extensions in the NRL has given himself scope to make a code switch should he wish.
With Roosters captain James Tedesco this week signing a one-year extension until the end of 2025, Suaalii’s desire to play fullback in the NRL has been put on hold.
“He is playing that card absolutely and keeping his options open,” Hunt said.
“If I was a betting man, he is a more genuine option to go back to rugby at some stage than Cameron Murray is.
“In saying that, maybe he is playing his cards smartly and waiting for the Roosters to make a decision on Tedesco down the track.”
Melbourne’s Nelson Asofa-Solomona and Parramatta’s Will Penisini are also on Jones’ hit-list as potential targets.
Jones has been derided by NRL administrators, and even player agents, for his public push to chase rugby league talent, but Hunt said the coach’s vision on recruitment was spot on.
“Any organisation or company wants a bullish CEO or a bullish head coach to go from a lower position to a higher position,” he said.
“Eddie is doing what he believes needs to be done. I like it. I admire it.
“It is quite easy to have a hit-list. It is just about whether you can land those targets.”