AFL boss Andrew Demetriou reckons Karmichael Hunt has justified his huge price tag but hopes the code hopper remains in the sport.

Fans of Israel Folau may disagree but AFL boss Andrew Demetriou believes off-contract code hopper Karmichael Hunt’s achievements may never be rivalled in Australia.

And while Demetriou reckoned Hunt had already provided enough bang for the considerable buck laid out by the AFL, he hoped the ex-Bronco would ignore NRL overtures and remain in the sport.

Speculation is again swirling around Hunt with NRL clubs believed to be hovering as the Suns midfielder weighs up his future coming off a disrupted AFL pre-season.

Hunt is nearing the end of his latest Suns deal partly funded by the AFL, believed to be worth $1 million a year.

Asked if he believed Hunt had lived up to his price tag since his sensational switch in 2010 when he signed an initial $3 million, three-year deal, Demetriou said: “Absolutely.

“Karmichael has been a great ambassador for our game and helped put this club on the map.

“He had injuries last year and I am hoping he will play good football this year.”

At 27, Hunt is under increasing pressure to hold his spot in a Suns midfield bristling with young talent including 2013 Rising Star winner Jaeger O’Meara, Harley Bennell and teenage sensation Jack Martin.

Asked if he hoped Hunt would re-sign with the Suns, Demetriou said: “I hope so.

“I feel like I know Karmichael well.

“(And) he would be relishing the fact this club has a lot more competition to get a game and that will push him further.”

Former Queensland Origin winger, brief Greater Western Sydney AFL convert and current Wallabies flyer Folau may have turned heads.

But Demetriou believed Hunt – who also enjoyed a 2010 French rugby stint with Biarritz Olympique – had impressed him the most.

“He is an athlete I don’t think we will see the likes again. Who can try their hand at elite level in NRL, rugby and AFL?” Demetriou said.

“I hope he sticks with AFL because he is great for the game.”

Suns coach Guy McKenna has indicated he still considers Hunt in his top squad despite his injury-affected pre-season.

“K’s already shown on a very limited pre-season the value he can add to us in the midfield,” McKenna said.

“His hardness, his ability to repeat tackle, his ability to stay strong over the football is an important ingredient of an AFL footballer.

“When he’s fit and in form and warrants selection, he’ll get picked.”