Tui draws from Thorn in breakout year

Super Rugby
by Sam Phillips

If learning how to be a Test quality second rower is Lukhan Tui's goal, there is no better place to be than Ballymore.

That's simply because there is no man more equipped to teach the craft of lock play than Brad Thorn, the Reds' contact coach.

Tui has made a starting spot his own this season, beating out Kane Douglas and Izack Rodda, though the latter has had injury concerns consistently pestering him this year.

Thorn was his coach at Queensland U20s level and he has progressed to the senior ranks alongside Tui, providing the 20-year-old the chance to soak up as much as he can from the dual-code legend.

"Thorny has accomplished pretty much everything in rugby," Tui said.

"The preseason was tough and it was definitely good for myself, as it was my first preseason.

"The boys put a lot of hard work into it and you can definitely see, in patches, that we are definitely doing what we want and we are playing a much more physical game with Brad Thorn there, showing us."

Tui only started playing rugby as an 18-year-old so the work Thorn and Nick Stiles have put into developing his skill set has paid dividends.

He is yet to put together a jaw-dropping 80 minute performance but he has played halves which show he is an A-Grade talent.Tui scored a superb try against the Force. Photo: Getty ImagesHis first half against the Waratahs was eye-catching as it featured several dominant runs that put the Tahs under significant pressure.

His line-bending ability is his biggest asset but consistency hasn't been a constant - a theme that runs right through the entire Reds squad.

Another common theme Tui shares with several Reds players is his Samoan heritage.

Both his parents were born and raised there and he is thrilled to be in Apia.The Reds celebrated Taniela Tupou's 21st in Samoa on Sunday. Photo: QRU Media"You see a lot of pictures and here a lot of stories about Samoa from my family and everything is pretty much spot on," he said.

"The people are lovely, the weather is nice and the country is beautiful.

"It's good to experience it for the first time and to do it with all the boys.

"They (the Blues) have a lot of Samoan boys up front so they will be up for it as well."

The Reds take on the Blues in Apia on Friday evening, kicking off at 5:35pm AEST, broadcast LIVE on FOX SPORTS.