Reds coach Brad Thorn calls upon childhood final victory as inspiration for do-or-die Rebels clash
He’s won a Rugby World Cup and NRL titles among the trophy haul but Queensland coach Brad Thorn is drawing on an under-11 grand final to galvanise his team ahead of their Super Rugby AU qualifying final against Melbourne on Saturday night.
The cross-code great says his young Reds team has nothing to fear at Suncorp Stadium as they look to lock in a grand final berth against the Brumbies on September 19.
Having beaten the Brumbies last week, Thorn has retained that winning line-up and urged his players to stick to the routine that had steered the Reds into their first final since 2013.
“Finals is finals – one of my favourite finals is under-11,” Thorn said on Thursday.
“It’s the same thing – as an 11-year-old I was nervous and I wanted to play with my mates and win a title.
“(In) 2008 as a Crusader when we won it, I wanted to play with my mates and win a title – it doesn’t change.
“The occasion may be bigger but you’ve got to decide is it a big crazy thing or is it a game of footy, so put things into place and get a result.”
The Rebels boast many more Wallabies but Thorn reminded his troops that many had experienced do-or-die games with the Australian under 20 side, who were runner-up in their 2019 world cup.
Thorn expected Melbourne to also be desperate to go all the way in their maiden finals showing.
“They’re a tough side, they’ve shown they don’t go away and it will a tough assignment,” Thorn said.
“This is two teams desperately keen to make it one more week … to me there’s nothing past the last minute of the game, it’s an abyss.”
Searching for their fifth straight win at home to remain unbeaten there this season, Thorn only made two changes to his bench with tighthead prop Jack Straker replacing Ruan Smith while hooker Alex Mafi returns to the 23 from a hamstring injury.
Reds: Jock Campbell, Chris Feauai-Sautia, Jordan Petaia, Hamish Stewart, Filipo Daugunu, James O’Connor, Tate McDermott, Harry Wilson, Fraser McReight, Liam Wright, Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, Angus Blyth, Taniela Tupou, Brandon Paenga-Amosa, Harry Hoopert. Res: Alex Mafi, JP Smith, Jack Straker, Tuaina Taii Tualima, Angus Scott-Young, Moses Sorovi, Bryce Hegarty, Hunter Paisami.
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