Thorn 'can't have' Slipper cocaine use

Super Rugby
by Sam Phillips

There are two sides to the "gutting" James Slipper situation, according to Reds coach Brad Thorn.

Having learned of Slipper's battle with depression and the health concerns surrounding his mother prior to Christmas last year, Thorn told the star prop to take as much time as he needed.

"For me, family comes first," Thorn said after the Reds' loss to the Highlanders.

"Footy - it's your job.

"With his mum struggling a bit there, the message was that I don't care if you don't come in at all.

"Just do whatever - to me, family is big."James Slipper is in hot water. Photo: Getty ImagesBut on the other side of the coin, there is no mistaking his stance on illicit drug use.

He has banished Karmichael Hunt for similar issues earlier this year and now, Thorn pointed to the example it sets mums, dads and children around the country that watch Slipper play every week.

"It's a tough one because obviously Slips has been struggling with some stuff and there is obviously some compassion around that and caring for him around that and getting that addressed, supporting him and stuff," Thorn said.

"The other side of that is cocaine - you can't have that.

"As the head coach of the club, I have my young guys in here.

"I'm watching my sons play rugby at school and there are all those kids - it's a real issue, to me.

"There are two sides of it and you can't have that - you can't have cocaine, drug use."Brad Thorn has a strong stance on drug use. Photo: WalmsleyThorn said he didn't want to disappoint those families, nor his young playing group.

"The situation is gutting, it's disappointing," he said.

"Slips has got his challenges going on there so there are two sides to it, supporting him and the attention he needs around all that stuff.

"But there is also the side... all the young guys we have here, all the kids playing rugby, you can't have that.

"For me, I don't want to let those mums and dads, I've got my own children and I don't want to let down these young guys."

Thorn wouldn't be drawn on whether he will be pushing for Slipper to re-sign, with his current contract set to expire at the end of this year.

"The situation and where it's at, at the moment, it is what it is and as a club we will further look into that stuff.

"In the last week - the Wellington week I had to return to New Zealand to attend a funeral, my uncle.

"This week we have just been preparing for this with that stuff going on there, announced on Thursday.

"It's just a matter of, I guess, with the club, addressing that stuff down the track.

"That's pretty much all I've got for you at the moment."