He may have played in 59 tests for the All Blacks, but Reds head coach Brad Thorn could well be the next man in line for the Wallabies job.
That’s the verdict from Rugby Australia’s high performance director Scott Johnson, who is among those at Australia’s governing body eager to keep Thorn onboard after he led Queensland to a grand final appearance in Super Rugby AU last week.
The Reds’ qualification for the tournament’s final represents a notable turn in fortunes over the past couple of seasons, and much of the credit has to be handed to the work of Thorn, who joined the Reds as head coach ahead of the 2018 season.
At this stage, though, the former Australian rugby league international is yet to re-commit his future to the franchise, telling reporters on Saturday that he had “just been worrying about this [competition] at the moment’’.
“But now that this has come to an end, I’m sure there’ll be chats and what-not going around there.
“But it’s not really something to talk about now, mate. We’ve just come from a pretty big game.”
However, Johnson has since told News Corp that “there is a real desire to keep [Thorn]” on Rugby Australia’s behalf.
“It’s a decision Brad has got to make because we want to keep him in the system. We want to keep him. I certainly do,” he said.
“He has been such an experienced, champion player but it is such a different skill set, going from playing to coaching. He was on the training wheels for the first couple of years, like us all, but he’s grown in the job, and he is now a very good coach.’’
Johnson went on to suggest that Thorn could even challenge for the Wallabies head coaching role once new boss Dave Rennie’s time at the helm of the Australian national side comes to an end following the 2023 World Cup in France.
“In time I don’t see why not. He is improving all the time,” Johnson said of the possibility of Thorn taking charge of the Wallabies.
“The one thing that Brad is consistent and true to himself. He is what he is, and he doesn’t try to become anything that he’s not. Personality traits like that are hard to find and hard not to like.”
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