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The Ergon Energy Broncos today announced that 19-year-old fullback, Karmichael Hunt, had agreed to a new three-year deal with the club.
In making the announcement today at a Press Conference at the Broncos headquarters at Red Hill in Brisbane, Broncos managing director Bruno Cullen said he had no doubt the signing would send a huge buzz through the club and its supporters.
?I don?t think I am exaggerating when I say that Karmichael was one of the hottest properties coming off contract, and certainly he would have been much sought after by other clubs had he gone on the open market,? Mr Cullen said.
?No club likes to lose its good young players, and at the Broncos we are no different. But it is particularly satisfying to be able to retain a player of Karmichael?s standing, who ? before being injured two weeks ago ? was the current Queensland and Australian fullback.
?He came to us straight from school and immediately made an impact at the top level, and at just 17 became our youngest NRL debutant. The Broncos have nurtured him through the first three years of his career and we are understandably elated that he will be with us for three more years.?
Mr Cullen revealed that contract negotiations with the young fullback had been ?relatively straight forward?.
?I don?t think there was ever any doubt that Karmichael wanted to stay in Brisbane, and play with the Broncos,? he said.
?Clearly there were issues that needed to be worked though, such as Karmichael?s future role at the club and where both parties see his career heading. However, I can say categorically that very little of our dealings concerned money, even though K has obviously received a pay rise commensurate with his standing in the game.
"I have no doubt that Karmichael views the Broncos as the place he wants to be for the remainder of his career, and the feeling is mutual. It is no secret that both Wayne (coach Bennett) and I see him as a future candidate for the Broncos captaincy.?
Karmichael said he was happy, and relieved, to have settled on his playing future for the next three years at least.
"When I first joined the Broncos from school at the end of 2003, I remember being so excited with just being at the club, and being part of what I always thought was the most professional and successful footy club around," he said.
"In the 2 1/2 seasons I have been here, nothing about that has changed. The other guys in the squad, the coaching staff and everyone at the Broncos makes you feel so much at home and comfortable about being here. Every day I look forward to going to training, and being part of the Broncos. It's just fun." While this new contract will finish at the end of Season 2009, 19-year-old Hunt hopes to play his entire career with the Broncos.
"I look around and see guys like Webbie (Shane Webcke) and Locky (Darren Lockyer) who have been here for their entire careers, and it's something I would like to do. If I can, I want to be a one-club player too," he said.
"Playing footy is not just about 80 minutes out on the field every week. For me it is a career and I want to be happy where I am, satisfied that my game is progressing and that I am learning all the time to be a better player.
"As well, I need to be content with my life away from the club. At the Broncos, I have all of that."
Bruno Cullen also announced today that hooker Ian Lacey had re-signed with the Broncos for the next two seasons.
Lacey, who made his NRL debut in round seven against the Roosters, has been with the club for four years, and played in the Colts premiership team of 2004.