World Cup could lead to European dreaming for Matildas defender Hunt

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World Cup could lead to European dreaming for Matildas defender Hunt

By Emma Kemp

Clare Hunt had better buckle up because her agent’s phone will be ringing off the hook. Europe’s biggest clubs are always on the lookout for dependable defenders and this one is as reliable as they come.

There are a few things to know about Hunt.

Clare Hunt (right) in action against Canada on Monday night.

Clare Hunt (right) in action against Canada on Monday night.Credit: Eddie Jim

The first is that she was almost 24 when she made her Matildas debut, which is nearly 10 years older than many of her teammates.

The second is that she is only 24 and has already had seven surgeries – five on a torn ACL, one shoulder reconstruction and one to mend a broken arm.

The third is that she rocked up at just the right time – when Australia were down a central defender in Alanna Kennedy – and has been next to flawless since.

That debut came a grand total of five months and nine caps ago. It is an awfully short period of time to become indispensable to a national team during a golden age of talent.

Clare Hunt warms up at AAMI Park on Monday night.

Clare Hunt warms up at AAMI Park on Monday night.Credit: The Age, Eddie Jim

Three of those caps have come at this World Cup, and it is a wild concept that the Western Sydney Wanderers centre-back had not yet been discovered by coach Tony Gustvasson when the Matildas last played – and defeated – Denmark in a friendly last October.

Now it is almost unfeasible that she will not start against Denmark in the round of 16 on Monday night.


Hunt started her international career at the Cup of Nations in February playing next to Clare Polkinghorne and has seamlessly transitioned to a partnership with Kennedy, who only started training with her in June and could not wrap her head around her level of technical skill (“I was like, ‘where have you been?’”).

For Hunt, there appear to be no nerves – she is quite literally just playing every match in front of her.

“I’ve had some exposure to top-quality teams in England, Spain and France in the lead-up to the World Cup and I think that has prepared me well for the level of competition that we are coming up against in this tournament,” Hunt said.

“For me, there’s not a large of difference between international friendlies and the World Cup other than the occasion itself.”

So strong have her performances been that it also feels impossible that she will not soon be tempted away from the Wanderers by a top-tier team in Europe, and has already spent some time training in the UK after Australia’s away friendlies with Scotland and England.


“I went and trained on with Everton for a bit, just to obviously scope out the Super League and what a training environment over there looks like,” Hunt said before the tournament.

“That was pretty cool. It was almost three weeks, so long enough to kind of get a vibe, but also not too long that you’re away from home for ages. I absolutely loved it.

“It was obviously a very different style of football, very possession-based – obviously over here in Australia we love a bit of transition.

“It was awesome to get that experience, and technically challenging. If I want to up my game a bit I would love to go over there and try and do that.”

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