Thorn bringing winning mentality to QLD Country: Paia'aua

by Sam Phillips

Queensland Country coach Brad Thorn has shown his troops what it means to have a winning mentality and Duncan Paia'aua hopes that will carry through to Super Rugby in 2018.

Paia'aua has returned to Country's setup for their NRC semi final on Sunday in Toowoomba, fresh off a start at flyhalf in the Wallabies' win over the Barbarians.

Having spent a fortnight away from camp, Paia'aua credited Thorn in building the culture that saw Country claim a tough win in Fiji before falling after the siren to the Spirit last Sunday.

"He's bought that winning mentality into this group," Paia'aua said.

"He's been a winner his whole career and I know all the Country boys have bought into his winning culture.Paia'aua and Country have had plenty of success in 2017. Photo: QRU Media/Brendan Hertel"Hopefully we can transition that into Super Rugby with the Reds and I know he will do a great job for us."

Paia'aua admitted he was a tad flustered in donning the number 10 jersey in Sydney on Saturday and that he will be better for the run as his attention now turns back to the NRC.

"It was a massive honour to wear the green and gold for the first time," he said.

"It was a very good experience for me, especially playing at such a crucial position in a big game.

"I'll take that experience with both hands and hopefully work it into my game in the near future.

"I didn't try to overthink it too much, when someone tells me I'm playing 10 I kind of get flustered a bit but I just try to do what I have all year and back myself when I'm playing."

The 22-year-old has been part of the Country setup since the inception of the NRC and was bursting with pride when asked what it meant to finally have the chance to play finals football.

"It's an awesome feeling," Paia'aua said.

"Obviously in past years we weren't even in contention for finals - I think the best we ever finished was second last a couple years ago.

"It's just been a good change for the boys, that winning attitude we all have now and have taken upon ourselves this season has been really good."Can Paia'aua steer Country into the NRC final? Photo: QRU Media/Brendan HertelBut if they are to contest the final next weekend they have to get past the Drua first.

"They've been a breath of fresh air in the comp and I think it's a good thing for Australian rugby as well," Paia'aua said.

"Adapting to the skill level they have, we can put it into our game as well.

"It's going to be a massive challenge this weekend, obviously they play a very hard game of footy, they like to offload and play very unpredictable football so it's going to be a good challenge for us."

Queensland Country host the Fijian Drua at Clive Berghofer Stadium in Toowoomba on Sunday, kicking off at 3pm AEDT, broadcast LIVE on FOX SPORTS.