'I just like winning titles': Thorn says the past counts for nothing ahead of Super Rugby AU final

Super Rugby - AU
by Christy Doran

Canberra, hoodoos, favourites ... Brad Thorn doesn't think twice about the external and says his Queensland Reds side won't bat an eyelid as they attempt to snap a six-year losing run in the nation's capital against the Brumbies to win the Super Rugby AU title.

Twice the Reds have ventured down to Canberra this year only to be pipped.

In the first match of the year, the Reds went down by three points after blowing a couple of late chances to steal an important win.

Seven months later utility back Mack Hansen broke their heats again, banging over a long-range penalty after the final siren to post a 22-20 win.

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The Reds wrestled back the momentum between the two sides with a clinical 26-7 win in the final match of the regular season earlier this month, a result that saw the home side win the 10th straight encounter between the two sides.

But Thorn isn't one for history.

As a player, the dual-international won everything that was up for grabs and the World Cup-winning All Black says his side will take that same relentless mindset into the final.

"You have all that sort of stuff - who's the underdog, favourite, what happened last time - but I'm not really here to sell that," Thorn said.

"For me, this is just a grand final we want to win.

"After the 2006 (NRL) grand final win, everyone was saying we're old, we're finished and someone asked what that meant to me.

"I just like winning titles - I like winning - I don't care about any of that other stuff really."

But Thorn is under no illusion of the tough task ahead, with the Brumbies expected to bounce back to form after cruising through the Australian-only tournament.

"Our guys have worked hard, they're a tight group, there's a job there that they're keen to rip in, we know that we've got a very tough opponent," Thorn said.

"They've been strong for a very long time in Super Rugby in Australia, the Brumbies, they're respected club, a very tough side to beat down there, everyone knows that, they'll be coming to get their job done.

"Isn't it a great game to look forward to."

Brumbies coach Dan McKellar has welcomed back 20-year-old playmaker Noah Lolesio for the final after a two-month injury absence.

His return, which has seen McKellar bring in Joe Powell at halfback for combination reasons, will see the Brumbies pose a greater attacking threat.

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Adding to the expectation that the Brumbies will represent a sterner test is that while the Queensland Reds were put through a physical test against the Melbourne Rebels in the qualifying final, McKellar's men have had an extra week solely to focus on the final.

Meanwhile, Thorn said the match could shape the thinking of Wallabies coach Dave Rennie ahead of next month's Bledisloe Tests in New Zealand, with 13 Brumbies and nine Reds featuring in his squad.

"I think from experience, the back-end of seasons, the national coaches especially look how the players perform under pressure," he said.

"I'm sure this is another opportunity to see how the lads perform under pressure."


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