sport

Reds sign O'Connor

O'Connor, 24, is returning to Australia after a spell in Europe, where he featured for London Irish and European champions Toulon.

The full-back was involved in a number of off-field controversies before leaving the Melbourne Rebels towards the end of 2013, and he was released from his contract with the Australian Rugby Union.

Former international team-mate Will Genia is confident the Reds can continue to work on O'Connor's improved maturity and perhaps get him back into the international set-up.

"I think we have the leadership capabilities here to help him work through those issues," Genia said before the deals were confirmed on Friday.

"But I think in his time away from Australia he has matured and grown as well. If someone like Karmichael comes along he can help as well."

Hunt has spent the last four years with the Gold Coast Suns in the Australian Football League after spending the early part of his career in rugby league with the Brisbane Broncos, where he won 11 caps for Australia and played for Queensland in the State of Origin.

The 27-year-old had a brief spell in the 15-man game in 2009 with Biarritz in France between leaving the Broncos and kicking off his AFL career, which proved to be less than successful - injuries and illness limited him to only one senior game this season.

"I have never met him (Hunt) but I have heard a lot about him," added Genia. "I used to enjoy watching him as a little kid when he played for the Broncos.

"He is obviously world renowned as a professional athlete. As a player he's an unbelievable athlete, a great talent, much like Israel (Folau) in that sense."

The Reds are looking to rebuild their squad after an awful Super Rugby season in which they lost 11 of their 15 matches and finished third from bottom.

They lost utility backs Mike Harris and Ben Lucas, prop Jono Owen, wingers Dom Shipperley, Rod Davies and Aidan Toua as well as promising young fullback Jonah Placid at the end of last season.

Fijian centre Samuela Kerevi, who impressed at the end of the last campaign after making the step up from the wider training squad, has been retained.

And they have also signed New Zealand-born Japan international loose forward Hendrik Tui and another rugby league convert in 19-year-old fly-half Duncan Paia'aua.