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Brad Thorn warns of unseen effect of Suaalii switch

(Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

Brad Thorn hopes Joseph-Aukuso Suaalii thrives after his code switch but is wary of the cash splash as the Queensland Reds battle to lock down an established star.


The Sydney Roosters winger will return to rugby in late 2024 on a deal reportedly worth $1.6 million a year.

Thorn has a strong case as the ultimate code-hopper having won a World Cup with the All Blacks after representing Australia in rugby league and claiming NRL and Super Rugby titles with Brisbane and the Crusaders.

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He told AAP on Thursday he took a massive pay cut to leave the Broncos and join the Crusaders, whom the Reds face on Friday at Suncorp Stadium, in 2001.

Unlike Suaalii, who grew up playing rugby and shapes as a gun fullback, Thorn had to learn the game from scratch and did it in the forward pack where the games vary dramatically.

“I wish that money was around when I switched, I can tell you,” Thorn laughed.

“I see a guy who’s doing some good stuff in league, an obvious talent and he’s having a crack.

“Like when Sonny Bill Williams came to the Crusaders.

“I’ve always had an interest in seeing those guys, wanting those guys to do well.


“Because it is a challenge; you come with your reputation, it can be different culturally.”

It may have an impact at Ballymore though, with the Reds scrambling to retain last season’s player-of-the-year Harry Wilson.

The Wallabies World Cup hopeful is off contract and has fallen down the pecking order at Test level, but began the year strongly under the gaze of new coach Eddie Jones.

The No.8 is keen to remain at the Reds but AAP understands there is big-money interest from at least one French club that could lure the 23-year-old flanker away in the prime of his career.

Thorn hopes Rugby Australia recognises Wilson’s value and the money offered to Suaalii doesn’t warp the market.


“How that will impact our contracts going forward, I guess we’ll see how th at plays out,” Thorn said when asked if the reported figure for Suaalii made retention difficult.

“We want these guys to remain at Queensland, playing here.

“There’s so many good things in Australian rugby coming up and we’re hoping these guys stay.”


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