Wallabies hopeful Karmichael Hunt re-signs with Waratahs

Karmichael Hunt will stay on at NSW, giving the Waratahs some vital experience after a big offseason exodus Albert Perez/Getty Images

Karmichael Hunt hopes playing a senior role in a new-look NSW Waratahs squad will lead to a Wallabies return in 2020.

The 33-year-old code-hopper has signed on for another Super Rugby season, having revived his stalled career by moving from the Queensland Reds to the Tahs this year.

But it is a very different NSW Waratahs squad that has begun preparing for next season, shorn of departed Wallabies veterans Bernard Foley, Nick Phipps, Sekope Kepu and Tolu Latu as well as the sacked Israel Folau.

That's just the key player turnover.

New head coach Rob Penney arrives later in the week and the franchise is yet to appoint a new CEO.

Hunt's experience and toughness promise to be valuable commodities and he believes he and fellow veterans Kurtley Beale and Rob Simmons must be ready to take on added responsibility.

"I'm no spring chicken like some of the boys in the shed, but I'm really eager and just looking forward to continuing to work on my craft," Hunt told Fox Sports.

"My leadership and experience around the club, with it being such a young team at this point in time, is crucial."

A knee injury effectively ended his chances of going to this year's World Cup, but Hunt wants to add to the six Test caps he earned in 2017 when new Wallabies coach Dave Rennie takes over next year.

"Absolutely, being a competitor, you want to play at the top level," Hunt said.

"I believe my game is made for the top level."

While Hunt was fined and suspended by Rugby Australia in 2015 and 2018 following drug-related issues, he has earned the respect of the Waratahs players and management.

Penney said he was looking forward to working with Hunt and expected him to continue playing a vital role midfield role.

"Everyone I've spoken to can't speak highly enough of Karmichael, his attitude, professionalism and experience will be extremely valuable this season," Penney said.

"He's a supremely talented athlete and from all reports, sets the example for our younger guys in the way he goes about his business, looks after his body and prepares for game."