Karmichael Hunt will make his return to rugby on the Gold Coast on Saturday when he lines up in a club match alongside fellow exile Quade Cooper.
Nine months after his last outing and six months after the arrest that led to his banishment from the Queensland Reds, Hunt has been registered to play for Queensland Premier Rugby outfit Souths. It is the same club Cooper has played at all year after being told by Reds coach Brad Thorn he wasn't in his Super Rugby plans.
Hunt, who hasn't pulled on the boots since last year's Wallabies spring tour, is expected to be named on the bench for Souths' clash against Bond University on Saturday.
"Looking forward to lacing up the boots again for @SouthsRugby!" Hunt tweeted on Friday.
He has close friend and Souths captain Cooper to thank for teeing up the opportunity, having been turned away by Norths, the club he was previously aligned to.
In a letter to members published by the Nine Network, Souths president Tony Shepley said the club obliged after being approached by Cooper about offering "assistance" to Hunt.
"Karmichael has essentially been in isolation and unable to play rugby for some time now," Shepley said in the letter. "That is potentially not a good thing for someone who has been involved in team sport for as long as he has.
"It was put to us that for his own well-being he be given an opportunity to redeem himself on and off the field. He has to be involved in a club and playing rugby somewhere to do that.
"I think as a club we are about providing those kinds of opportunities to whoever has need for them and not about kicking someone when they are down."
Shepley also said he hoped "compassion" for Hunt's plight outweighed any concerns by club members about having the 31-year-old at the club.
Hunt was arrested late last year but had a charge of illicit drug possession against him dropped in February. However, he was fined $600 for possession Xanax without a prescription and for contravening a police order. Rugby Australia later issued him with a fine and a four-match suspension, which was applied retrospectively.
Hunt has been technically available to play for the Reds but Thorn has made it clear he has no interest in using him. Both Hunt and Cooper are contracted until the end of 2019.