How Brad Thorn forced Tate McDermott to make the cut

Super Rugby
by Sam Phillips

When Brad Thorn speaks his young Reds side sit up straight and listen - even if it means parting ways with some luscious blonde locks.

New Reds halfback Tate McDermott learnt that the hard way in an Argentinian airport earlier this year in a simple exchange between player and coach.

At the time, McDermott was rocking a long, blond hairstyle, which reached down to his shoulders.

"We were on the way to Argentina and we got off one of the connecting flights," McDermott explained.

"Thorny just looked at me and said 'I have a job for you and you're not going to like it'

"The hair had to go.

"I always thought it was going to come, just not that early in the season."McDermott had to part ways with his long locks. Photo: Getty ImagesBrandon Paenga-Amosa suffered a similar fate with his hair and if McDermott's career follows a similar trajectory, he won't have any complaints.

The 19-year-old is well on the way, earning his first start against the Sunwolves having impressed with bench cameos over the past month.

It's been a testing year for the Sunshine Coast product - having been forced to fight for playing time with University of Queensland, the Junior Wallabies and now the Reds - but he has cleared every hurdle thrown in his way to force a berth in the starting XV.

It's reward for his head down, bum up attitude and the spark he has added to the Reds attack has been refreshing.

"I've been pretty lucky this year - I never thought this would happen this early," McDermott said.

"For Thorny and (Paul Carozza) and Tony McGahan to show the faith in me that they have - it's been massive for me.

"It's a little bit of a reward but I'm not getting ahead of myself.

"I'm just itching for the opportunity."

While he will forever miss the locks which were left on the floor of an Argentinian barber shop, McDermott lauded the way Thorn has accelerated his growth this season.

The rookie coach has preached the importance of ruck speed and halfbacks producing quick, clean ball - a particular strength of McDermott's.

"It's been massive for me just in terms of my discipline, my approach to training - all that sort of stuff," McDermott said of Thorn's influence.

"He's been awesome - particularly for the young boys - but for everyone in the squad

"In game sense that composure that he never stops speaking about and the game management side of things.

"I've still got a long way to go but he's been huge for me."

The Reds take on the Sunwolves on Friday night, kicking off at 7:45pm AEST, broadcast LIVE on FOX SPORTS and radio.