Thorn and "The Master" to lift QLD Country from cellar

by Sam Phillips

As Queensland U20s coaches, Brad Thorn and Paul Carozza are yet to taste defeat.

That's why Thorn calls Carozza "The Master" and that's the reason there is no better duo to lead Queensland Country from the cellar of the NRC.

That's the part of the ladder they have occupied since the NRC's inception and Thorn will look to employ the principles that have steered the Queensland U20s to back-to-back undefeated Super U20s campaigns in his first season in charge.

"I ended up playing for 21 or 22 years - it's all I've known," Thorn said.

"It's been great to come back to (the Reds) and I really want this club to turn around and be a strong club in Super Rugby.

"I wasn't really sure post footy but I did the 20s post footy as a forwards coach and then I did this as a forwards coach and I really enjoyed it so I wanted to progress.Mick Heenan and Brad Thorn will lead the Queensland NRC sides. Photo: QRU Media/Meggie Whitchurch"Working with Paul Carozza was a great experience and this is another step up again, dealing with men in a national comp.

"I'll see how this goes, put my heart into it and like I said, Paul and I will work with these boys and see if we can get some improvement out of them.

"You can show them all that stuff but I think the culture of the group is important - I can teach them stuff out there but it's what they bring individually and what they bring as a group

"Paul and I, our job is to get them going well and get them to crack in and make them feel like they are a part of something - make them want to achieve."

Thorn spent the first week of Wallabies camp observing and soaking up knowledge from Michael Cheika, his assistant coaches and George Gregan, who was on hand to help the squad's leaders.

"It was good fun, going in there," he said.

"It was interesting coming from another international team, seeing how another team operates and the vibe.Thorn spent some time with the Wallabies in camp last week. Photo: ARU Media"Talking to Georgey - a guy I played with - and having a good chat with him while watching them train was just a pleasure.

"He is a master and with chats like that, you just get gold from those guys.

"They know their craft, they know their stuff and I just really enjoyed speaking to him.

"The group, it's just great being around that elite level again.

"I loved competing at that level so to just be around it, I really liked that."

Pressed on whether he liked what he saw within Wallabies camp, Thorn offered a considered response.Thorn will have some handy halves to work with in James Tuttle and Hamish Stewart. Photo: Getty Images"There is a good vibe there," he said.

"They're working hard - good guys working hard together.

"That might not sound like much but the good teams I've been part of are good guys that work hard together.

"I really enjoyed being part of it, I helped out with a few things, there are a few fitness things where I probably wasn't so popular afterwards.

"It brings out the worst in me and it was pretty quiet at dinner that night but they warmed up again the next day."

As for what Thorn expects of his squad, he kept things typically elementary.

"It's not about necessarily winning, it's your potential," he said.

"Sometimes your potential isn't winning the comp, it's somewhere else.

"What frustrates me as a player and as a coach is teams that don't reach their potential."

Queensland Country start their NRC campaign in Canberra at Viking Park on Saturday, September 2, kicking off at 1pm AEST.