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'We both love our rugby': Reds coach and ex-All Blacks great Brad Thorn's impassioned plea for Super Rugby's future

By Online Editors

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Former All Blacks great Brad Thorn is calling for unification between New Zealand and Australia as the trans-Tasman debate about the future of Super Rugby rages on.

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What form the competition will take shape from next year onwards remains to be seen. Both nations kickstarted their own domestic Super Rugby league this season in place of the regular tournament that was suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Whether Super Rugby Aotearoa and Super Rugby AU will stay as standalone products or will be merged together to some degree in 2021 is yet to be decided and has been the subject of much drama between Rugby Australia and New Zealand Rugby in recent weeks.

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Reds coach Brad Thorn speaks to media.
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Reds coach Brad Thorn speaks to media.

Thorn, who played 59 tests for the All Blacks and now coaches the Queensland Reds, has now voiced his opinion on the predicament, suggesting his preference for a trans-Tasman format between the two nations.

“I look at two countries that have gone to war together, have a tight connection, are very close to each other and we both love our rugby,” the 45-year-old said.

“For me, you think about Queensland in the 70s, they started playing the New Zealand teams, they wanted to improve their rugby.

“We’re really enjoying this national comp playing against our fellow Australian teams, but also with New Zealand rugby teams, nationally as well, obviously being very strong, we want to compete against that also.

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“The future of rugby is getting talked about, and … we want to be in the best competition, we want to play the best.

“There’s an opportunity to have a very good competition, so you hope that whatever gets done on both side is for a good result and we get a world-class competition.”

Thorn – who won two Super Rugby titles with the Crusaders, played for the Highlanders, won the 2011 World Cup, played 200 times in the NRL and represented Queensland and Australia in rugby league – is out of contract with the Reds at the end of the year.

Despite that, he hopes to remain involved in whatever shape Super Rugby takes next season.

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“It’s not solely my decision (about his future with the Reds). You’ve got people who’ll be making those decisions, and we’ve got to see where the game’s going,” he said.

“I think it’s going in a positive way with the competition they’re talking about, and you want to be part of that.

“I’ve enjoyed this role, this is my third year, and I wanted to serve this club as best I could, and at the minimum leave it in a better place for the next guy.

“I feel like it’s in a reasonable place, but being attached to the guys and what we’ve done, and the build that we’ve done, it would be great to see it through, and see some real strength for the Queensland Reds, but also rugby in Queensland in general.

“Anyone who knows me, knows I want to achieve stuff.”

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