Project Thorn progressing in leaps and bounds

Super Rugby
by Sam Phillips

In the eyes of Brad Thorn, the Reds are a series of mini projects, all working towards one goal.

In recording a tough 20-14 win against the Bulls, Thorn saw some seriously good rugby from those projects, which are scattered throughout the team.

Taniela Tupou is one such project and at 21, he is already one of the premier props in Super Rugby.

Brandon Paenga-Amosa, Izack Rodda, Liam Wright, Caleb Timu and Filipo Daugunu all fall into the same category.

Together, they pull together the big picture for Thorn.

"If you told me three games in we would have a win over the Brumbies and the Bulls, two in three games, I'd be pretty happy about that and I'd take that," Thorn said after the win on Saturday night.

"There's a whole heap of projects out there improving slowly.

"The team's a project as a whole and then there are individual ones - those experiences, you learn from them in those games.

"The game just grinded and it felt like, at times, there was potential for it to open up or see some scoring opportunities but it was just one of those tight games.

"It's a young group and once again there was some composure, patience, control but it's all a work in progress."

Thorn had particularly high praise for Jono Lance, Rodda and Tupou, who were all outstanding against the Bulls.The Reds scrum is arguably their biggest weapon. Photo: Walmsley"I thought Jono Lance was outstanding tonight," Thorn said.

"For me, easily the man of the match.

"Guys like Izack Rodda - he's going to play many Tests.

"He carried all around the park and once again young Taniela Tupou.

"He's growing in scrummaging but just his physicality in defence and his carries and he's an exciting young prospect."

As good as that trio were, Thorn was also complimentary of a bench unit that is remarkably stronger than the finishers Nick Stiles employed this time last year.Liam Wright is one of Thorn's projects. Photo: Walmsley"Then all the reserves that came on were really working hard

"Alex Mafi came on and had the shot at the end there.

"The physicality - that's your role off the bench.

"You want to bring something more and that helps wins games of football."

Teams that are eager to climb the Super Rugby ladder akin to the Reds must learn to win ugly before getting too cute and Thorn looks to have a team willing to do that.

The polish will come soon enough and now, as they travel to Argentina and South Africa to take on the Jaguares and Stormers, respectively, they have a fortnight ahead which will provide a perfect opportunity to gel.

"With our attack, you're seeing opportunities but sometimes that final pass or cleanout is costing us.

"At some stage that will start to flow and we will get some good reward for that."