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The message from NRL supercoach Wayne Bennett that Brad Thorn remembers

By AAP
(Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images)

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Queensland Reds coach Brad Thorn has turned to the sage words of his former NRL mentor Wayne Bennett as they attempt to halt a four-game Super Rugby Pacific losing streak.

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The Reds (7-5) have tumbled from equal first to seventh ahead of their penultimate round clash against newcomers Moana Pasifika (1-10) at Suncorp Stadium on Friday night.

It’s no coincidence that slide has come since the resumption of trans-Tasman competition, although injuries to key pair James O’Connor and Taniela Tupou as well as a host of others have exacerbated concerns at Ballymore.

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O’Connor and last week’s key omissions Harry Wilson (concussion) and Fraser McReight (illness) are back on deck though, the Reds hoping to salvage their season before a likely quarter-final against rivals the Brumbies in Canberra.

“It’s been an interesting year; you have Covid, you have injuries then you have like, the flu,” former Brisbane Broncos and All Blacks forward Thorn said.

“You can’t take a trick sometimes but at this time of year, I remember Wayne always said, it’s about having your full deck and the other thing is momentum.

“That’s what we’ll be trying to build this week, then against the Crusaders (in the final round).

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“Whatever happens, week one of the finals, we want to compete.”

Wilson’s return will be key given he’s statistically the most damaging ball-runner in this year’s competition.

But he’s improved in other areas too.

“He’s really grown, Wilso,” Thorn said of the No.8, who was badly concussed attempting to score a fortnight ago in a tough loss to the Highlanders.

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“There’s a lot more chat around the team; he’s really starting to show some leadership in the group and he’s had a good season, played some good footy.”

The Reds will look to avoid a fifth-straight loss for the first time since 2018, while they haven’t lost three consecutive home games since 2016.

All that’s come after the Reds finished last season as domestic champions and committed to ending New Zealand’s dominance in 2022.

“Apart from the Blues (last week), they were too good, but the three games before that we were leading, had some close results,” Thorn said.

“Last year we were getting pumped (by the NZ teams) so the guys have improved, but we haven’t got what we wanted, we want to win.”

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