Queensland Reds coach Brad Thorn gets emotional when reflecting on the rise of his teenage talents into Wallabies.
But the former All Blacks lock admits he isn't sure how to feel while watching them impress against his former team.
Eleven of Thorn's Reds are in camp with the Wallabies, new coach Dave Rennie already blooding Hunter Paisami, Harry Wilson and Filipo Daugunu in Bledisloe Cup Tests earlier this month.
Brandon Paenga-Amosa and Liam Wright have also forced their way back into the side and could join teammates Taniela Tupou, Jordan Petaia, Lukhan Salakai-Loto and James O'Connor in Wallaby gold in Sydney for game three on Saturday.
'"That was an awkward one, watching those Tests," Thorn said of the first two Bledisloe Cups in New Zealand.
"I played 60 times for the All Blacks and I'm cheering hard for my lads ... I kept on having these 'what's going on here' moments."
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Their form is a big reason Thorn was rewarded with a one-year coaching extension on Tuesday, the short-term contract agreed upon given the future of the Super Rugby competition remains unclear.
It will make four years in charge of the improving Reds, but he's been at Ballymore in a coaching capacity since 2015.
"I've had these guys since they were 17 and I know you can have a real impact on these young men," he said.
"You get quite connected, you do care and it's as big a part of coaching as the data and skill sets."
After back-to-back six-win seasons, the Reds were unbeaten at home this season and made the Super Rugby AU final on the back of their first four-game winning streak since 2012.
"It's been a build, been the long game and for a couple of years there wasn't much to talk about," he said.
Salakaia-Loto welcomed Thorn's extension after the coach had been coy on his future late in the season.
"It's his no-bullshit attitude; he drives high standards and that sits well with the majority of the boys," he said.
"I think a lot of people forget that Thorny is only young in his coaching career and over the years he has coached us, he's learning and growing and so are we, so it's good to do that together."
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Thorn is hopeful the future of Australia's professional system includes New Zealand and surrounding nations and is optimistic of what his crop can achieve.
"Now we're seeing the fruits of our labour ... 11 guys being around the Test team now and there's a tight group there that want to achieve some stuff and there's a lot more in front of us," he said.