'I am not here to sell sideshows'
Brad Thorn doesn’t pretend to hide it – he just loves winning.
And that’s all the former Rugby League and Union great is worried about as he attempts to add another piece of silverware to his cabinet as Queensland Reds coach on Saturday.
The Reds will have to beat the Brumbies in Canberra for the first time in six years to walk away with the Super Rugby AU title.
But encouragingly they have lost by a combined five points in their last two trips to the nation’s capital, while they comfortably beat them in Brisbane a fortnight ago.
Jordan Petaia has been passed fit to play after suffering a concussion, while the Brumbies have brought 20-year-old Noah Lolesio straight into the No.10 jersey after a long injury lay-off.
But the All Black, former Crusaders, Queensland State of Origin and Brisbane Broncos title winner isn’t getting bogged down in the detail.
“You have all that sort of stuff – who’s the underdog, favourite, what happened last time – but I’m not really here to sell that,” he said.
“For me it’s a grand final, you just want to win.
“After the 2006 [NRL] grand final win, everyone was saying we’re old, we’re finished and someone asked what that meant to me.
“I just like winning titles – I like winning – I don’t care about any of that other stuff really.”
A three-month competition pause has dragged out the season that began with the first training drills in November.
“It’s been a frustrating time, hasn’t it?” Thorn mused.
“And the last three years [as Reds coach] it’s been a tough slog, with wins hard to come by and I’ve thrown these young guys into the frying pan.
“They’re pretty determined about this weekend and so they should be.”
Meanwhile Brumbies coach Dan McKellar admits they’ll test Wallabies squad member Hunter Paisamai in his return to No.13, with Petaia shifting to the wing for the injured Chris Feauai-Sautia.
“He’s a good player who has had some good moments this year, runs a good line and he’s a threat in attack and if you run straight at him he will whack you in defence,” McKellar said.
“But I think he’s been exposed a couple of times with decisions defensively as well.
“It’s a tough place to defend at 13 and he’s no different, he’s at the early stages of his career and for the most part he’s done a really good job.”