'Queenslander': Thorn labels remarkable Reds win as "Originesque"

Super Rugby - AU
by Christy Doran

Brad Thorn described Saturday night's character-filled 19-3 win over the Melbourne Rebels as "Originesque" as Queensland, not the Maroons but the Reds, produced a remarkable defensive performance in Brisbane.

Indeed all Thorn - a dual international who played 11 matches for the Maroons in State of Origin - could think of as he watched his troops keep their defensive line strong was "Queenslander".

"It was Originesque, it was a Test match," Thorn said.

"Just kept fronting, just kept turning up.

"Queenslander. That's what it was. If you summarise Queensland, that's what it's about. You can't describe it except saying 'Queenslander'.

"Super proud of the guys."

According to the Fox Sports Lab, the Reds had just nine per cent of possession in the second half and were forced to make 143 tackles to the Rebels' nine.

The marvelous defensive effort brought back memories of the Wallabies keeping Wales tryless despite being reduced to 13 men during the 2015 Rugby World Cup.

In the five minutes after half-time alone, the smallest bloke in the Reds' side, halfback Tate McDermott, made two trysaving efforts bringing down Wallabies winger Marika Koroibete and fellow winger Andrew Kellaway.

He later somehow held up Isi Naisarani over the line.

There would have been another half-a-dozen times where it looked for all money that the Rebels had scored.

Yet, the Reds, having conceded 38 points a week earlier in the opening 40 minutes against the Waratahs when their heads were still clearly in Brisbane and with Jordan Petaia following the sudden death of his father days earlier, held firm.

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Post-match Thorn poured praise on his new assistant coach Michael Todd, who in the wake of COVID-19, has stepped up as the side's analyst to fill the void left by defence coach and Thorn's former teammate Peter Ryan.

"The job that Michael Todd does, I haven't really heard anyone mention Michael because they probably don't know him," Thorn said.

"He's our defence coach. Peter was obviously doing a good job before COVID comes along. But Michael's been our analyst for the last five years or so.

"We first worked together during NRC and he was helping me do some lineout work and I said 'Why don't you come out on the field and you can look after one line and I'll look after the other?'

"He ended up coaching NRC, forwards coach, but his passion is 'D' and he's taken that role and he's doing some special stuff there.

"Credit to Michael. I guess no-one knows who he is but I think he's going to have a long career in coaching and this is just the start of it."

Captain Liam Wright, who continues to grow as a leader, said Todd had "simplified" the defensive strategy and that the defensive effort showcased the side's resilience. 

"We had Toddy and Thorny on air just saying 'keep going, keep going, it's just about patience and holding that 'D' line', which they did," Wright said.

"Our scramble 'D' was fantastic at the back as well.

"As we've said over the last few years really, the strength of this team is just the boys fighting for each other and not wanting to let the team down."

He added that it was just a matter of his side "flicking the switch" following last weekend's off-night.

Undoubtedly the absence of Petaia, who stayed behind to be with his family, played a part in their performance a week earlier against the Waratahs.

Thorn, who lost his own father at a young age, said it was important for Petaia to keep busy and that being a part of a team sport was beneficial.

"It's just great to have him in the team," Thorn said.

"It can be a tough one that first game without your dad there. For me it was probably after the game, personally, from my own experience.

"I'm just thinking of him and his family.

"It's good for him to be around the guys. We love having him around and he's just doing what he does, doing his footy. The thing about it is, if he just had a break from footy than you're just sitting there thinking about stuff. It's just good to be doing what you do and being around a team, the guys are really fond of him and a tight-knit group."