Thorn keeping coaching aspirations close

Super Rugby
by Sam Phillips

Queensland Reds assistant Brad Thorn has not ruled out a run at the Reds’ top job, as speculation over Nick Stiles’ future continues to intensify.

Thorn spoke to following Queensland Country’s emphatic NRC win over the Melbourne Rising, a performance that had him reflecting on his defensive approach as a head coach, having only had top job experience with the Queensland U20s prior to this NRC season.

“Pleased with the win but the thing I loved the most was the defensive effort,” Thorn said of that game.

“We were down to 13 men at one stage and I was just really proud of the boys.

“I’m not buying into that - I know that’s what the NRC is supposed to be, but I said after the Vikings game, we lost 48-40 and I said that was Mickey Mouse.

“We talked about that as a group and I just think defence says a lot about who you are.

“Everyone likes running with the footy, everyone likes doing that stuff but when you defend, put your body on the line, work hard on the inside, all that sort of stuff, it’s not the fun stuff.

“It’s the stuff that is the hardest to do and it says a lot about your team, who you are, your character and everything like that.”

It’s that sort of attitude that has sections of the QRU board pushing for Thorn to take the reins in 2018 and the World Cup-winning All Black was philosophical when asked about his journey to this point.

“When I have been in Australia I’ve been a league man - I have played league,” he said.

“So I came into union as an outsider but I worked with these young boys in the 20s and when I rocked up, I said to them that I’m not a career coach, I was playing six months ago for Leicester Tigers.

“I said I’m sorry but there is only one way I know and that means the standard is excellence.

“I’m just used to professional footy and that’s how I train.

“I have been training those boys, that way, since and they seem to have responded.

“I just think when you challenge young men they want to be challenged and they will respond - I’m really proud of them.”

Thorn offered a thoughtful response when asked whether he would take the head coaching job, should it become available, and certainly did not rule out the possibility.

“I have one more year in my contract with the Reds and all I have ever known is footy so it was nice to come back after 21 years of playing professionally all around the world in two codes,” he said.

“I turned up, I was really honest, I said I didn’t know what I am but I know footy, that’s what I am.

“So I have been doing those things, the 20s, the NRC and the head coaching of those two teams, I have really enjoyed it.

“Does that mean I’m going to be a career coach? I don’t know but we will just see how things keep going.

“I’m enjoying this and the big driver for me is just contributing.

“I feel like I am getting to do that and I would like to think some good stuff is happening.

“With that stuff, we will see what happens.”