Country happy for holidays to wait

by Sam Phillips

While the rest of the NRC puts their feet up after a long season, Brad Thorn and Queensland Country are exactly where they want to be.

Country are used to November holidays, having never played in a final prior to 2017, but this season is worlds away from the Country of old.

To go from perennial cellar dwellers to NRC grand finalists is a remarkable achievement, one that's creating a "pretty special" feeling within the group, according to Thorn.

"It's pretty special when there is only two teams left," he said at Brisbane Airport on Friday.

"All the other teams are on their break and this is where you want to be - you want to be competing."Hamish Stewart and QLD Country have been the surprise packets of the NRC. Photo: Getty ImagesThorn attacked his first season as an NRC head coach with one goal - changing the losing culture that encompassed this club.

"For me it's been a bit of a test as a coach - can you turn that culture around - that sort of thing," he said.

"These guys were used to being losers, yearly, perennially.

"We addressed the culture of the group and we wanted it to matter to the boys.

"When things matter they tend to commit to something and some good things can come of that."

Some of those good things come in the form of the Wallabies Country have produced.

Liam Wright has gone from relative unknown to Spring Tourist, Duncan Paia'aua started at 10 against the Barbarians and it's only a matter of time before Taniela Tupou gets his first crack at the big time.

But Thorn stayed true to form when asked about the stars of his squad, referring the squad's success back to the entire group.

"At the start of the season we were saying to the guys that we would probably use the whole squad, maybe more," Thorn said.

"We've had to bring in guys from outside of the squad because of a few injuries and Wallabies being selected.

"I've been really pleased with the whole group - that's how we've won - we haven't done it on the back of one guy.

"Duncan went and represented the Wallabies, another guy stepped up, Taniela as well - they're all doing well and I think it's good for not only Country but Queensland rugby.

"We want to be a club that provides a lot of Wallabies going forward - that's a good thing because it means you're doing some stuff alright."

One star that won't line up at Viking Park is James Slipper - the 86-Test Wallaby ruled out with a fractured eye socket after copping an uppercut from a Fijian Drua player in Sunday's semi final. 

"It's disappointing for Slips cause he has loved being part of the group," Thorn said.

"He has worked really hard and he's been a really good member of the team.

"He's got so many Test caps but he's the kind of guy where he is just one of the guys - he will be running the water for us."

The Vikings host Queensland Country at Viking Park on Saturday November 11, kicking off at 7:30pm AEDT, LIVE on FOX SPORTS. Admission at the ground is FREE.