With a trophy haul that includes NRL titles, a Super Rugby championship and a Rugby World Cup, Brad Thorn knows the recipe for success – and he sees it in his Queensland Reds team. Thorn says the common trait among his title-winning teams has been their defence, with the Reds showing their mettle in their last-round Super Rugby AU victory over Melbourne.

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The victory, in which the Reds made 204 tackles to the try-less Rebels’ 66, shot them from fourth to second spot on the ladder with three rounds to play.

“Every time I won a title we were usually top of the defence,” Thorn said on Wednesday ahead of their Friday night clash with the Western Force. “Any time I’ve been in a team that’s done well – we focused on it (defence) a lot at the Broncos, the Crusaders, the All Blacks.

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“You look at the Crusaders and Jaguares in Super Rugby last year they were one and two; defence is just so important. What it says is a lot about your attitude, a lot about your mindset as a team, your connection, the spirit of the team.”

Thorn said Reds skipper Liam Wright has been urging the team to go on with it with the playoffs in sight. “Liam has been saying to front again – you become a great side when you front week in and week out so that’s the challenge for the lads.”

Meanwhile, Thorn praised the work rate and maturity of his scrum anchor Taniela Tupou. While some critics have put Tupou’s dominance down to illegally angling in at scrum time, Thorn said it was pure power from the 132kg beast.

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“You can talk about him, but it’s a pretty easy equation – he’s a big, powerful tighthead who has learnt to love the scrum,” Thorn said. “You’d be surprised if he wasn’t being dominant.

“Taniela is 24 now, he’s worked hard on his craft, been to a World Cup, 50-plus caps, and he’s just coming into that time – there’s just maturity coming in.”

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