Hunt signing 'hinges on Lockyer'

Brisbane’s chances of re-signing star fullback Karmichael Hunt could hinge on the future of captain Darren Lockyer.<br><br>Lockyer is one of three key players – alongside Hunt and prop Dave Taylor – off contract at the end of the season and the Broncos face an uphill battle to retain all three after withdrawing a $1.2 million offer to 22-year-old Hunt on Monday.<br><br>But despite reports to the contrary, the Queensland and Australian fullback could still find himself wearing a Broncos jersey next season after his manager this morning rubbished claims that they had “missed the boat”.<br><br>It is believed that Hunt hasn’t so much brushed aside the Broncos as merely put talks on hold as he waits for the club to secure the services of Lockyer for 2010.<br><br>The pair are close friends and Hunt is reluctant to put pen to paper if it means Lockyer, 32 next week, is squeezed out at Red Hill.<br><br>If Lockyer does re-sign in the coming weeks it could open the door for Hunt and the Broncos to return to the negotiating table.<br><br>Hunt’s manager, David Riolo, was reluctant to discuss Hunt’s motives when contacted today but insisted that suggestions he had missed the Broncos’ boat were wide of the mark.<br><br>“By no means have we closed the door on Brisbane,” Riolo told NRL.com.<br><br>“Obviously at this stage they have withdrawn their offer, which they are well within their right to do, but he isn’t off contract until October 31… and there is a lot of water to pass under the bridge before then.<br><br>“All that has happened is that we weren’t on their timeline at this stage but we’ll see where we’re at in the coming weeks.”<br><br>Riolo wouldn’t be drawn into speculation that Hunt wanted to escape Brisbane following last year’s sexual assault allegations.<br><br>Broncos boss Bruno Cullen said yesterday that Hunt was a ‘slightly different character’ following events last September and suggested he may be sick of life in a fishbowl.<br><br>“I spoke to Bruno yesterday after his press conference – we’re still talking about things – but I’d rather not bring any of that into the public domain,” Riolo said.<br><br>“The Broncos have been open and all of our discussions have been amicable.<br><br>“All I will say is that yes, he is close to ‘Locky’… so you can read between the lines.”<br><br>Meanwhile, former Brisbane forward Greg Eastwood this morning put pen to paper on a three-year deal with the Bulldogs.<br><br>Eastwood is currently awaiting a visa approval to enter the United Kingdom after signing for Super League club Leeds last year, but he will spend at least the remainder of the 2009 season in Sydney after his initial application was rejected.<br><br>“We’ve signed him to a three-year deal but he has a get-out clause at the end of the first year if his visa application is granted,” Bulldogs CEO Todd Greenberg said.<br><br>“His first application was knocked back and he is appealing which I understand takes about 16 weeks.<br><br>“If the original decision is overturned he has the opportunity to leave but if not we’re more than happy to have him.<br><br>“It’s an unexpected coup for us to have a player of Greg’s ability join the club.”<br><br>Eastwood’s arrival means the Bulldogs now boast four members of the forward pack that helped Brisbane to within two games of last year’s grand final alongside Benn Hannant, Michael Ennis and David Stagg.<br><br>After yet another ‘season from hell’ in 2008, the Bulldogs appear to have quickly turned the corner and celebrated the arrival of a new era with a 34-12 thrashing of premiers Manly in round one.<br><br>Eastwood trained with the squad for the first time this morning.