Reds raid Brumbies for Hunt cover
KARMICHAEL Hunt's stalled career has forced the Queensland Reds to find a new fullback with the swoop for quicksilver attacker Aidan Toua.
Wallaby Hunt's brief court appearance in Brisbane on Monday to face allegations of cocaine possession clarified one thing.
An adjournment until February 19 means he will definitely be missing from the Reds' Super Rugby opener against the Rebels in Melbourne just four days later.
Being stood down from all team-related activities until the latest drug allegations are resolved means he won't even be training with the Reds to be considered.
This scenario has been on the cards since Hunt's arrest on December 30 which has prompted some savvy signings to give the Reds some cover.
Utility backs Jono Lance and Ben Lucas both feel comfortable at fullback while Toua, 28, offers the greatest spark and most recent Super Rugby experience at No.15.
A deal has been struck with Toua to return to his first club after he produced some excellent games for the ACT Brumbies in 2016-17.
He played 30 times across those two seasons to prove, for the first time, that his body could stand up to the rigours of Super Rugby.
That consistency at fullback compared to the frustrating, injury-ruined run of just 10 Super Rugby games over four seasons when at the Reds (2011-14).
Toua is coming off a season in Japan with the Honda Heat.
To fit Rugby Australia's contracting rules, he would essentially need to fit the category of "emergency cover", which Hunt's drawn-out court process has now created.
New coach Brad Thorn will start experimenting with his fullback options on Friday night in an intra-squad trial at Ballymore as part of the Reds' Fan Day.
Lucas, youngster Jayden Ngamanu and Fijian rookie Filipo Daugunu all shape as likely to see time at fullback while Lance is in the final throes of healing a broken hand.
The Brisbane Global Rugby Tens at Suncorp Stadium on February 9-10 will be another chance for Daugunu to excel.
Japan's Panasonic Wild Knights have named an exciting line-up for the Tens with former Wallabies Digby Ioane and Berrick Barnes as headliners.
The duo add to the appeal of last year's upset kings who are bringing 12 Japanese Test players in their squad under former Wallabies coach Robbie Deans.
Winger Ioane, a star of the Reds' 2011 Super Rugby triumph, has found a new home after a sizzling, stepping try for the Crusaders at the Tens last year.