Former All Black and current Queensland Reds coach Brad Thorn has explained the reasoning behind his tough anti-drug stance.
In a wide-ranging interview with RUGBY.com.au Thorn revealed his brother-in-law’s battle with substance abuse let him see how drug use can ruin lives.
Slipper was handed a two-month ban and fined $27,500 in May after testing positive for cocaine twice. Hunt was arrested in December, but subsequently had cocaine possession charges dropped.
“When you’re talking about cocaine to me, it’s a serious issue,” Thorn told RUGBY.com.au.
“I know that probably these days people are saying it’s more prevalent but once again, it’s the Queensland Reds – this is part of the Queensland Rugby Union.
“I don’t want (cocaine) to be around this team, this club or the kids around this club.
“I’m a dad – I’ve got four kids and on my wife’s side one of her siblings had some issues with drugs and it’s a tough thing.
“I know they call them party drugs and stuff now but you can call them whatever you want – they cause issues in people’s lives.
“It’s not great for society, it’s talked about in the newspapers and it’s a challenge for society.”
Thorn said his hard stance is not about making an example of players like Hunt and Slipper, more about setting an example for the younger players, of which the Reds have plenty.
Reds youngsters Taniela Tupou, Izack Rodda, Lukhan Tui, Caleb Timu, Liam Wright, Tate McDermott, Hamish Stewart and Jordan Petaia are all under the age of 24, and will all start for the Reds when they play the Sunwolves on Friday night. At 18 Petaia is the youngest player in the competition.
“There are a lot of young guys coming through and it’s important to me that they have good mentoring from myself or that the club culture is strong,” Thorn said.
“As much as I want them to go on to be great players and have great careers, I also want them to be great people and humble.
“So kids have good role models when they see a Reds player – he plays good footy and someone that the way he goes about his stuff shows good qualities.
“We’ve all got our battles and I’m not saying everyone has to be perfect or anything but as a dad with four kids of my own, there is the footy side of things and then there is the people side of things.
“I’m hoping that there is a long term – that we are working towards building a foundation for a long term healthy club and rugby in Queensland and hopefully some success – that’s my mindset.”
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