Balanced approach helps Hunt adapt

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Hunt, (pictured) an All Black in 2017-18, has started the 2020 season on the blindside flank of the Highlanders pack while captain James Lentjes is on the open side.


That has required a slight change in emphasis for Hunt but his life away from rugby has provided him with the blueprint to manage the change.


"It is reasonably similar to seven but there was a couple of different things I like. Being in the middle of the field, a bit more contact and a bit more physicality," he said.


Hunt said he was trying to build running with the ball more and more and playing in the changed role gave him a bit more opportunity.


"I was quite happy to get those extra opportunities. I have been training there a bit there through pre-season. We've obviously had a big preparation coming into the first game with the Crusaders and Waratahs so it was not the first real run," he said.


Hunt said he was enjoying playing at a lighter weight, around 104kg. He had put on an extra five kg last year but felt uncomfortable as it slowed him down a little and having focused more on his game and less on weight he was feeling more agile as a result of the reduction.


He was confident the side could learn from their loss to the Sharks in the first round when they travel to take on the Brumbies in Canberra on Saturday.


"We've spent a long time building our game pre-season so the main rocks are there, now it's about polishing out some of those errors from the first round.


"We've just got to have trust, that's what we've been talking about the whole pre-season. We've done the work, we're fit, we're ready so we've just got to trust in our game plan. We're obviously going to have to iron out a few things but we're ready to do that and we'll get there," he said.


Hunt said one of the lessons from Friday's opener had been that they were getting caught high when carrying the ball on occasions while their cleaners had been a bit slow in support and they had been working on that ahead of the Brumbies.


The Brumbies had some good loose forwards on the jackal.


"We're aware of that and we're also looking to do the same to them," he said.


When first heading south to university it had been in the company of mates from his North Shore Westlake Boys' High School but the surveying student is now the only one remaining in the south.


That was the nature of university – students moved on once their studies were complete, he said.


Now his peer group was more associated with the Highlanders but he also enjoys what the Otago coastline has to offer in his recreation time.


"I make a point to get out and explore where possible. You hear about some people who live in the town and never see the other side of the peninsula," he said.


There were different groups in the Highlanders who liked to get out and explore. That catered to Hunt's passion for diving and fishing for paua and crayfish. It also contributed towards the Zoology degree, concentrating on marine mammals and conservation, that he was working on.


"You just have to keep the mind going and look at different things.


"You need to find that balance. If you get too involved thinking about rugby, outside of rugby you get bogged down. You need to take the time to rest and refresh and do the things you enjoy," he said.