Mountain still to climb for Reds coach

Super Rugby AU success with the Reds felt good, but Queensland coach Brad Thorn wants to take his team to the next level.

Domestic success isn’t enough for Brad Thorn, who has set his sights on taking the Queensland Reds to the top of the Super Rugby tree.

Born winner Thorn has extended his Reds coaching tenure by a further two years, signing a new deal that will keep him at Ballymore at least until 2023.

It’s a case of unfinished business for the former All Blacks, Kangaroos, Broncos and Queensland State of Origin star, whose job is far from done at the Reds despite guiding the team to a drought-breaking Super Rugby AU title this year.

Next year’s new Super Rugby Pacific competition – which brings together teams from Australia and New Zealand as well as Fijian Drua and Moana Pasifika – holds plenty of appeal for Thorn.

The Reds got a renewed taste of against playing against Kiwi outfits in this year’s short and sharp Super Rugby Trans-Tasman competition.

Despite winning just one from five matches, it was a great learning experience for both Thorn and the Queenslanders, with the lessons set to enhance their chances of greater success in Super Rugby Pacific.

“There’s still a lot to do here,” said 46-year-old Thorn, who has been Reds coach since 2018.

“We had success in the AU. We achieved something, which was good, we won that title … but the trans-Tasman tournament was healthy as well because it showed that we still have a way to go.

“It’s like climbing a mountain. You get to the top of it, and it feels good, but then there’s another bigger mountain to climb.

“It bodes well for the guys’ mindset over the pre-season of where we need to get to.

“We’ve got to be better in all areas because we want to compete to win next year.

“Since I was a little kid in primary school, I’ve never been a fan of just being a participant. I’m there to win games and try to win competitions.”

However, Thorn – who will be assisted by Jim McKay, Michael Todd and Cameron Lillicrap – said it would be dangerous for him to declare the Reds could win the 2022 Super Rugby Pacific title.

“You want to be super careful about throwing out anything around that sort of stuff,” he said.

“The Australian rugby public they want to see actions, not talk. There’s sometimes been frustrations over the years about the talk. Let’s see the actions and do the talking after.

“There’s a whole lot of hard work ahead of us. Just know that we’ll be working hard and we’ll be competing to win.”

The extension of Thorn’s deal will result in him becoming the longest-serving Reds coach since John Connolly, who was in charge from 1989 to 2000, a period of solid success for a star-studded Queensland team.

“I wanted to play forever,” Thorn said.

“I just love the game … when I was playing, I just felt good, being in the game, and the next best thing, if you love the game, is to be a coach.

“There was a challenge here. I have a connection with the state. Queensland means a lot to me. New Zealand’s where I’m from, Brisbane’s my home.

“I’ve seen a rugby public that was crying out to feel good about their rugby again. Ballymore’s a special place.

“The hardest thing I would have done previously was going from league to union the first time, but this was a whole other level.

“There’s so many angles … but the strength of my staff is massive for me. We’re a really tight group here.”

Originally published as Brad Thorn extends his tenure as Queensland Reds coach by two more years

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