Former Wallabies captain Stephen Moore has backed Brad Thorn’s tough Reds calls despite the side taking just five wins this season, with one match left.
Queensland had one of their best starts to a season with three wins from their first five games, but have won just two more matches since then.
Their dwindling returns brought the spotlight onto Thorn’s decision to put a line through experienced players Quade Cooper, Karmichael Hunt and James Slipper, despite all still having time on their contracts.
Hunt made his return to club rugby last weekend but is unlikely to be back in the Reds fold, while Cooper has not trained with the Reds all year and Slipper’s next move is unclear.
Though those calls have been met with differing opinions, Moore said Thorn and those inside the Reds fold had to ignore the outside view.
“Thorny's made some really tough decisions and that's what had to happen and I think you've got to block out a lot of the noise in these times when a lot of people have got opinions about things and stick to what you know works,” he said.
“I know he's got a good, young group of people there. If they work hard, they'll do well.”
Moore said players like tighthead Taniela Tupou and fellow Wallabies Izack Rodda and Lukhan Tui needed to step up and take the reins on the field for Queensland, as the side grows in maturity.
“I think it's been a tough year for them no doubt, but they've blooded a lot of young players and i think the average age last weekend was 22 on the field, which is very young, and if those players can stay together for another few years I think they'll be a very good side,” he said.
“I think you've seen some young players there like Izack Rodda, Taniela Tupou really take that step up now to Test level and show that they can play at that level.
“They're the kind of players that have got to lead the team going forward - Lukhan Tui's another one as well.”
Tupou, particularly, has become a cornerstone of the Reds side this season, with his scrummaging catching up to the skills that made him a YouTube star in his high school days.
“Taniela - he's a freak,” Moore said.
“We've seen that since he was a schoolboy and I think he's starting to realise his potential now, the impact he's having on the game and it's great to see that the scrum can still play a really key role in the game and that only gets more important at Test level.
“If he can have that impact at Test level, then it's going to be a great thing for Australian rugby
“I've really enjoyed watching him play - he plays with a smile on his face, looks like he loves it out there and he's doing really well.
“He's being really well-coached up there.”
Stephen Moore was in Sydney as part of his role as an ambassador for the Invictus Games.