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Reds boss Brad Thorn's challenge to the Brumbies ahead of heavyweight clash

By AAP
(Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images)
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Queensland Reds coach Brad Thorn has challenged Super Rugby Pacific rivals the Brumbies to take on his scrum in a spicy prelude to their latest battle.

The Brumbies beat the Reds by four points a fortnight ago in Canberra, with statistics showing seven of eight first-half scrums resulted in a penalty.

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Why the Brumbies are the team to beat in Super Rugby Pacific | Aotearoa Rugby Pod
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Why the Brumbies are the team to beat in Super Rugby Pacific | Aotearoa Rugby Pod

The unbeaten Brumbies will return to Brisbane on Saturday for the first time since the Reds’ (5-1) dramatic after-the-siren win to claim last year’s Super Rugby AU title.

Those two close results continued a remarkable trend between the sides, with 14 of the last 15 encounters won by the home team but seven of the last eight decided by five points or less.

The scrum tactics have been a source of friction between Thorn and Brumbies coach Dan McKellar, who will leave his post permanently at the end of this season to re-link with Dave Rennie as Wallabies assistant.

The Reds can jump the Brumbies into top spot if they manage a bonus-point win and Thorn has dared the visitors to take them on up front, eager to pump up the tyres of his own scrum guru Cameron Lillicrap in the process.

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The former prop and distinguished physiotherapist won a World Cup in 1991 as a player before serving on the staff for the Wallabies’ 1999 triumph.

“The scrum going to ground, we’re not about that here,” Thorn said.

“If you look at the last four years, with Cameron Lillicrap (as scrum coach) … we feel we get dominance through that and we’ll be looking to compete there.

“He’s been around the game a long time, he’s quality and then you’ve got a scrummaging lock (Thorn as coach), we are passionate around the scrum.”

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Thorn stopped short of labelling the Brumbies’ tactics as negative.

“I’m not interested in commenting on that stuff; I’m just saying we want to scrum and everyone knows that. We want to play positively,” he said.

Angus Gardner will again officiate the rematch, Thorn confirming he had encouraged the prospect of a scrum contest in their post-game debrief.

“You just want to have a good game of rugby … we’re in the entertainment business,” he said.

Reds lock Lukhan Salakaia-Loto won’t return from an ankle injury despite being named on Wednesday, while winger Filipo Daugunu will return for his 50th cap with Jock Campbell (hand) sidelined.

The Fijian talent was surprised on Friday by the secret visit to Ballymore of his auntie, who was a key player in his arrival in Australia to pursue a rugby career and hadn’t seen him for more than four years.

The clash will also pit Creighton brothers Lawson and Hudson against each other for the first time, after they were named on the Reds and Brumbies’ benches respectively.

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