The brave Queensland side went down to the reigning back-to-back-to-back champions 24-20 at Orangetheory Stadium, but had they slotted at least three of their four conversion attempts, the Brisbane-based club would have come away with a shock victory.
Their wayward goalkicking prompted veteran Brisbane Courier Mail rugby writer Jim Tucker to lay the blame entirely on Thorn, who he believed “must take responsibility” for that facet of his team’s game.
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Tucker wrote that the ex-All Blacks lock – who won two Super Rugby titles with the Crusaders in 2002 and 2008 – “came through customs pushing three large boxes of team equipment but that’s not the only baggage he arrived home with”.
“The Reds played some superb rugby but butchered their shot at upsetting the Crusaders with diabolical goalkicking.
“This is an issue Thorn must take responsibility for.”
Tucker criticised Thorn for entrusting fullback Jock Campbell, “only a part-time goalkicker for his club”, with the Reds’ kicking duties over the past four matches, of which Queensland have won just one against the last-placed Sunwolves.
The Courier Mail reported that Campbell has a 57 percent success ratio off the tee, and that his selection as the Reds’ premier goalkicker was “on the basis of good training form at empty Ballymore without the pressure of a single fan in the stands”.
Tucker said that injuries throughout the backline could see Thorn re-call fullback Bryce Hegarty, “who was the competition’s only 100 percent goalkicker [nine-from-nine] in 2020 when he was demoted to the bench four games ago, so there is a lesson in there about always finding a spot for your best goalkicker.”
Thorn labelled the lack of success on the goalkicking front as “a big frustration”.
“We knock over our conversions and it’s a different result,” he said.
The Reds will look to secure their second win of the season this weekend when they host the Bulls in Brisbane on Saturday.
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