Game of Thrones may be the most popular television show in the world but at Queensland Country, ‘Game of Thorns’ reigns supreme.
While the lands of Westeros are fought over by multiple families, Country coach Brad Thorn reigns supreme over his troops, implementing a 20 minute high intensity interval training session which the players have dubbed 'Game of Thorns'.
“It’s tough, hard work, going to a dark place and trying to get through it,” said newly-appointed Queensland Country captain Duncan Paia’aua.
“You start in the middle, run 10, run back 20, and then you hit the ground every line, you do six of those, hit the pad across the field, drive five metres, hit the ground, and you go all the way across the field, and you go from one side to the other.”
Thorn’s game, and prevailing coaching methods are implemented, according to Paia’aua, to breed tough rugby players, toughness being a quality Thorn himself was known for in his 23-year playing career.
“He’s picked a lot of tough under 20s and Premier Rugby players, and I think we’re going to bring that tough mentality into the game,” Paia’aua said.
“We spoke about how NRC is always looked at as an attacking competition and we’re working very hard at training to be the best defensive team.
“Thorny’s run us through a lot of tough training sessions the last three or four weeks, so we’ve been working hard on our toughness and the contact aspect of the game as well.”
Paia’aua also spoke as to what it means to be named captain and how it will help his development, having had a breakout year for the Reds.
“I was a bit surprised, Thorny came up to me last week and said I was going to be captain - and I was happy to accept - I was very honoured for him to look at me as a leader of the group," he said.“It’s another good reward for me with all my hard work this year, I think we’re going to be competitive in this competition and that’ll be the icing on the cake for my year.
“He said he knows I’m not the best speaker in the group but he knows I can lead with my action, so that’s the big reason he chose me as captain.
“I think it’s great for my growth as a player and as a person as well, being more confident, speaking up, leading the team out, it’s going to be hard but that’s something I’m working on.”
When asked about his on-field direction, specifically addressing the NRC rule amendments, Paia’aua made it no secret as to how he would lead.
“I’m one player that’ll back my team to get over the line every time," he said.
"Unless we have to I think I’ll always go for the five points instead of the three.”