Coach Brad Thorn is happy with his Queensland Super Rugby side after an internal trial.”It’s a start.”
That’s how Queensland Super Rugby coach Brad Thorn has described the team’s maiden hit-out under his reign – a willing 14-14 internal trial draw in tricky, wet conditions at Ballymore.
Reds teams of the past few years might have mentally thrown in the towel at the first sight of rain in a pre-season clash.
Instead, it appeared Thorn’s hard-nosed regime is already working wonders. They tore into each other on Friday night as if there were points on offer.
“I’ve got a saying – it’s nothing personal, but it is personal,” Thorn said.
“It’s probably something I’ve always lived by.
“For them to crack in, it’s not always easy playing your mates – you get really tight in these teams.
“I used to struggle. I don’t think I ever played well against the Crusaders when I had my two years at the Highlanders, because I knew so many of them.”
A number of key players – including George Smith (back), Jono Lance (hand) and Izack Rodda (shoulder) – didn’t take part because of injury. But, there were a few pointers as to how Thorn might choose his side for their opening Super Rugby clash on February 23 with the Melbourne Rebels.
Hamish Stewart played the full 60 minutes at five-eighth for the Red team, which appeared to be close to Thorn’s best available side, and showed fancy footwork to beat two defenders on a neat 15m run to touch down late in the second half.
Stewart, 19, has played only a handful of minutes for Queensland but has been anointed their next chief playmaker after Thorn’s decision to show Quade Cooper the door.
Two-time Wallaby Chris Feauia-Sautia – finally fit and firing after missing all of last season through injury – also lined up at No.13 for the Red side across from Samu Kerevi at inside centre.
“I’m a huge fan of Chris Sautia as a young man and as a footballer. He’s right up my alley,” Thorn said.
Lachlan Maranta played at fullback, although how long be might be first choice in that position remains to be seen. News broke during the match that Karmichael Hunt’s cocaine charge would be dropped by police – a potentially career-saving development.
“It’s like a soap opera, isn’t it?” Thorn said.
“I can’t really comment on that.
“It just keeps on rolling, doesn’t it?”