What I learnt from Karmichael Hunt
I had a great chat with dual international Karmichael Hunt on a range of topics in a career where he has made it as a professional in 3 of Australia’s leading sports.
“K” as he is known, made his first grade debut at the tender age of 17 but instantly won the respect of his peers and fans of the game for his uncompromising style which included his kamikaze running and his pristine side step. As he explains in the interview he lives life to the edge both on and off the field, but you can’t fault his ambitious outlook to successfully switch from Rugby League to AFL then Rugby Union, It takes a special athlete to be able to play, compete and dominate in such a fashion.
My conversation with Karmichael had some great stories and success secrets, to listen to the entire episode click the link below.
Here are my key takeaways from our chat:
DEALING WITH ADVERSITY
In the recent test series against Scotland, Fiji, & Italy, while the Wallabies as a whole were disappointing, however the shining light was Karmichael, who not only had to deal with a lack of experience at this level but a positioning he was not accustomed to. The big thing was that he was challenged and he made adjustments to get the job done without excuse.
“It was the Thursday before the Saturday game that I found out I’ll be playing at Inside Centre after having trained at fullback the entire week. So you can imagine my headspace was pretty frantic trying to get my head around the plays at 12. All I was doing was running positional plays at 15, all my starter moves, scrum moves, all the scrum lineout plays. I had my head wrapped around what I had to do as a 15, so I had to go back and learn a whole new playbook so it was a bit of a world wind for me but I had some great players like Quade Cooper & Bernard Foley who are such great thinkers of the game, so they help me understand the 12 position a whole lot quicker than I was hoping for”
LEARNING HARD WORK AT THE BRONCOS
From his debut at 17, he was fortunate enough to be around some of the greats of the game including Darren Lockyer, Gorden Tallis, and Shane Webcke while his coach was Wayne Bennett. It was the old school culture around hard work that helped propel him forward and continue to evolve.
“The one thing I learnt very quickly at the Broncos and being around those types of players was that you need to work hard to get better. Talent gets you through the front door, but hard work takes you a long way. Lockie, Gordie, Webcke, they are always working hard, at their crafts after training before training, in the gym there was a non-stop work ethic that propelled them to great success and it's something that I learnt very early on, and it's something that I hope that I well I think I preach by my actions as a 30 year old now. You reap what you sow I'm still growing trying to get better, after training before training in the gym, when you get older it changes from being dominated by skill but also looking at games to get through recovery, massage, through saunas things like this, it's always where can I get better, how I can get better and how hard you need to work, I learnt very early on”
RELATIONSHIP WITH WAYNE BENNETT
Wayne Bennett is one of the greatest coaches in Rugby League history. Developing young players from school boy level to become the best in their position just seems part and parcel with the skills he has as a mentor and coach. Seeing the development and progression of players like Darren Lockyer, Karmichael & Darius Boyd, his coaching record is second to none.
“Wayne's been a huge influence on me, he was sort of like a second father to me as a 17 year old, help me navigate through all the pats on the back, the criticism at the age of 17 in the sporting world was plenty on my plate, he was such a huge influence and such a fantastic guide for me”
With all the riches of a rugby league career just why did Karmichael take himself to the foreign sport of AFL? Yeah he had a background playing as a school boy, but this was years after an NRL premiership and representing his state and country. Was it for money or achievement?
“It was a change of scenery for me first and foremost and it was a new challenge. I've been playing league since I was 4 years old pretty seriously and debuted at 17. I managed to experience all I wanted to experience, I played in a Grand Final, played Origin, I played test footy so it was a fantastic opportunity to sort of test how far I can test my body in a foreign sport and I said why not. I've always loved living life on the edge, it's got me in trouble quite a few times but that's where my most growth has come as both a player and a person that was pretty much a dream come true to get that opportunity and see where I could go with it”
After struggling with some off field issues, Karmichael was introduced to meditation by his wife and has led to benefits both on and off the field.
“It's been massive, not once when I was growing up did I get taught about the thing we call the mind that we all possess. So for me to discover meditation through my wife initially, just helped me understand who's in control of all these thoughts and emotions and feelings which tended to get on top of me quite often and it just allows you to step back and see it for what it is and gives you a bit of space from that train of thought that happens daily. It's definitely changed my perspective on life and given me a lot more freedom a lot more peace and calm as well and something that is helped me with football as well when it comes to decision-making on the field and just being able to get through the ups and downs, the rollercoaster ride of emotions and my thoughts a lot better”
And how does he apply his meditation:
“Look I started with guided meditation but now I sit in silence by myself. I used to do it every day but now I might be lucky to do it properly 2 or 3 times a week with kids now. My meditation turned from guided to silence and sometimes it can be awaking meditation just everyday understanding when you have a thought pop it in, whether there negative or positive they are just thoughts, they just emotions, just knowing that has been powerful for me”
WHERE HE LEARNT HIS AGGRESSIVE STYLE OF PLAY
One of the things you have to love about Karmichael is the uncompromising approach he has on the field. So where did this come from?
“Look my dad instilled that in me as a youngster, I was always naturally a timid type of guy and very reserved but always growing up my dad was always my footy coach and he always stressed to me the importance of defence and he always said defence starts as a mindset and he said if you were aggressive defensively everything else takes care of itself and as I grew older I kept remembering that as a piece of advice to put my body on the line and it's just part of who I am now , there's no going back for me. I'm hard at it when it comes to footy, but off the field I’m the opposite to be honest”
INSPIRING THE OLDER PLAYERS
Leaders can come in all shapes and sizes; sometimes we get caught up believing that an older person must lead a younger person. But you will be surprised how someone more experienced and older than you can take inspiration from your actions, as Karmichael found out with Brad Thorn.
“Brad Thorn and I were having a chat about it not long ago he told me he used to get a bit of a kick out of it. It would always make him want to take the next hit up, at the Bronco’s everyone did their work, that's where I learnt my work ethic I got a bit of an aggressive style the lessons were and instilled from my dad, but they were drilled into me by the Webckes, Tallis, Brad Thorn, these guys really stuck at home to me and maybe believe that you got to give your all no matter where you are or what time of day it is you've got to give it your all”
5 PEOPLE HE WOULD INVITE TO A PRIVATE DINNER PARTY
K is a huge fan of American sport, but I love this question to see where his interests and inspirations lie.
Michael Jordan, Jay-Z, Barack Obama, Elon Musk & Miranda Kerr
Some great stories and tips from the Karmichael. Check out the entire interview and let me know what you think at Tristan@talkingwithtk.com
I have conducted 100’s of interviews with some of the most successful people across business, art, sport and fitness on The Vision Board Podcast and also Talking with TK. Be sure to subscribe for free to the show via iTunes, Sound Cloud & Stitcher and please leave us an iTunes review.
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