Thorn mum about his future with the Reds
Brad Thorn will have to take stock before recommitting to the Queensland Reds after his exciting young side fell painfully short in a tense Super Rugby AU final on Saturday night.
The Reds really pushed the Champion Brumbies to the limit before succumbing 28-23 in a frenetic finish in Canberra. Having trailed by 15 points midway through the second half and been hampered by ill discipline when wing Filipo Daugunu was sin-binned for a lifting tackle early in the second half the Reds were down to 14 men for 10 minutes.
Earlier they had also lost their star young winger Jordan Petaia and big forward enforcer Lukhan Salakai-Loto to injury, coupled with Daugunu’s yellow card looked pretty much dead in the water.
“But the guys showed what they’ve showed all the way along, which is their ticker and resilience,” Thorn said after a contentious try to Reds lock Angus Blyth in the 64th minute set up a grandstand finish at GIO Stadium.
“Their determination to get back into the game, it was pretty close in the end, wasn’t it?
“But, at the end of the day, it’s not much fun losing grand finals, is it?”
“We came down here to get a job done and came close but didn’t get there.”
The Reds have come a very long way since Thorn took over in 2018. He has gone about rebuilding the team with an iron hand and an old fashioned work ethic, giving them a cultural overhaul along the way and has come up with some unusual rostering calls.
He was widely condemned when he cut enigmatic playmaker, Quade Cooper loose as he was said to be “superfluous” to Thorns plans for the Reds. The dislike the two had for each other that originated on the playing field with Coopers legendary bad boy act of putting a knee into Richie McCaws head didn’t exactly help. When Thorn arrived at the Reds it was clear that Cooper had far too much influence with the team and there simply wasn’t enough room for the two of them….so Thorn jettisoned Cooper.
Secondly he also gave Karmichael Hunt and James Slipper their marching orders for ill discipline, another act that the fans didn’t enjoy.
But Thorn’s hard nosed approached certainly started to pay dividends this season with them becoming the most exciting team in the country to watch…bar none!!
He’s installed young flanker Liam Wright as captain who has led them with aplomb and they now boast a world class forward pack, something that was always a problem for them in the past. The pack now includes the likes of Super Rugby AU MVP Taniela Tupou and the future Wallaby back row duo of Harry Wilson and Fraser McReight.
Thorn also provided a lifeline to the forgotten “wild child” of Australian rugby – James O’Connor – giving him a chance to exhibit his skills back on home soil and under the watchful eyes of Wallaby Head Coach Dave Rennie possibly igniting O’Connors international career again.
However when he was quizzed about his future with the Reds regarding his continued rebuilding of the franchise he was rather coy.
“I’ve just been worrying about this at the moment,” he said.
“But now that this has come to an end, I’m sure there’ll be chats and what-not going around there.
“But it’s not really something to talk about now, mate. We’ve just come from a pretty big game.”