Karmichael Hunt is making up for lost time.

The three-code star had a scandal-filled 2015 before easing into his rugby for the Reds in 2016.

But continual groin troubles, which eventually required surgery and kept him out for three months, saw Hunt put last year away as “wasted”.

It’s taken three years but the 30-year-old is playing his best rugby to date through Queensland’s first three matches and his body is coping with the rigours of Super Rugby.

“The body is feeling pretty good,” Hunt said from Johannesburg ahead of Queensland’s clash with the Lions.”To be honest, the shoulders are turning up a bit sore on Mondays but being up in the defensive line I’m getting a lot more traffic than I would back at 15.

“I’m enjoying it – the biggest concern for me was my groins.

” Last year was kind of a wasted year when it came to that – I had to get surgery and sit on the sideline for three months but they’re holding up pretty well.”

Hunt has established himself as an integral part of the 10-12-15 combination that also Quade Cooper and Duncan Paia’aua.

“It’s great to have Quade back,” he said.”The moment he stepped back into Ballymore he’s been a leader, he’s been vocal and he’s really helped my game on the field but also as you mentioned, off the field components as well.

“It’s been a while – we’re two ex-Churchie boys, we’re from New Zealand – there are some similarities there and we get along quite well.

“This two week tour, in general, a lot of the boys are just looking forward to hanging out with each other, spending some more time together.

“It’s nice to have a laugh about things and talk about things outside of football so it’s been good so far.”

The Reds are under no illusions as to the defensive task at hand when they face the Lions on Sunday morning (AEDT) and as a vocal defensive leader, Hunt is pleased with how the team’s work on that side of the ball is tracking.

“For me, being from rugby league it’s pretty natural to try and get out of the line and put some shots on but to be honest I’m just trying to do my job,” he said.

“I’m not trying to do anything special.

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“So far we have defended well – we haven’t had perfect games but on the weekend against the Crusaders it was probably one of our better performances when it came to set piece defence.

“It’s a continual work in progress but the boys are working into it.”