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Brad Thorn to step down as Reds head coach at season’s end



The Queensland Rugby Union (QRU) has today confirmed Brad Thorn will step down as head coach of the Queensland Reds at the conclusion of the 2023 Super Rugby Pacific season.

Following two decades of unparalleled success as a player at the elite level, Thorn’s coaching credentials will leave a lasting legacy at Ballymore after he guided the Reds through a global pandemic to their first Super Rugby title in 10 years and blooded a total of 62 Queensland debutants during his six seasons in charge.

Of those 62 players to wear the maroon for the first time, 10 have gone on to play 50 matches for Queensland while another 14 players have since represented the Wallabies courtesy of their development under Thorn at Ballymore.

The 48-year-old is the longest serving Reds head coach in more than two decades and equal-fourth longest in Queensland coaching history.

“It’s been an honour to coach Queensland,” said Thorn.

“As a Christian, I want to thank the Lord Jesus Christ for his strength and for the purpose he’s given me in being here over the past six years.

“I’d like to thank my family for their support and I’m looking forward to spending more time with them at season’s end.

“I’ve also been lucky to have a great group of staff who have had my back along every step of the way, and I thank them – they’re friends for life.

“The past six seasons have been equally enjoyable as they’ve been challenging, but I’m fortunate for the opportunity and hope I when I do leave here, the program and culture is in better shape to when I started the job in 2018.

“To be a part of young footballer’s development is something special. It’s been great to see so many earn the opportunity to wear the maroon jersey for the first time, and then to go on and play for their country.

“The job’s not finished. We’ve got six games left and then finals – and we’ve got a plan to get there.”

QRU CEO David Hanham said: “On behalf of the QRU I would like to congratulate and also thank Brad for a great job leading the Queensland Reds over the past six seasons.

“Upon his appointment as head coach in 2018 he had to make some tough decisions – unpopular decisions, but they were for the betterment of the whole organisation.

“Built on care, humility and hard work, he changed the culture at Ballymore which then translated onto the field with three successive Super Rugby finals appearance and a title in 2021.

“Brad will continue to coach the Reds until the end of their current Super Rugby Pacific campaign. His fellow coaching staff and playing group are all equally committed with the goal of playing finals for a fourth-straight year.

“We will conduct a thorough process to appoint a new head coach for next season which will be communicated at the appropriate time,” said Hanham.

QRU General Manager – Professional Rugby Sam Cordingley said: “Queensland Rugby has a lot to thank Brad for. He has been a big part our successes on-and-off the field during his tenure.

“Brad has always had the best interest of Queensland Rugby and the club at heart.

“He speaks often about reward for effort and whilst recent results haven’t reflected the effort that has gone in, he certainly leaves the club in a better place for his time here.”

In his maiden year as Queensland head coach, Thorn won more games (six) than the previous four seasons (2017 – four wins, 2016 – three wins, 2015 – four wins, 2014 – five wins).

He guided Queensland to three-straight Super Rugby Finals appearances (2020, 2021, 2022) that included claiming the 2021 Super Rugby AU Championship.

In that same season, the Thorn-led Reds won the most games in a season (nine) since 2013, equalled a club-record 11-game winning streak at Suncorp Stadium, won three straight matches against the Brumbies for the first time in Queensland’s history, reclaimed the Rod Macqueen Cup for the first time in nine years and retained the Bob Templeton Cup for the first time since 2013.

Thorn was also a major driver for two of Queensland Rugby’s greatest initiatives which both took place in 2019 – the return of the Reds playing in maroon jerseys, and the highly successful ‘Reds to Regions’ visits across the state of Queensland.

Currently in the competition’s bye round, Thorn and his Reds coaching staff are preparing for the back-half of the 2023 Super Rugby Pacific season with Queensland hosting three home matches in the next month including a second historic game in Townsville in Round 11 against interstate rivals New South Wales on May 6.

Content & Images from – Queensland Reds Rugby

Super Rugby

Brad Shields named 2024 Hurricanes Captain



Brad Shields named 2024 Hurricanes Captain

Experienced loose-forward and Hurricanes centurion Brad Shields has today been confirmed as captain of the Hurricanes ahead of their 2024 DHL Super Rugby Pacific campaign.

He will be supported by Asafo Aumua and Jordie Barrett, who have been named as vice-captains for 2024.

Shields, who played 103 games for the Hurricanes between 2012 and 2018, before heading offshore to pursue a test career with England, signed with the Hurricanes last year, eyeing a return for this season.

He takes over the reins from 2023 captain Ardie Savea who departed for Japan this season.

The captain’s tag is a title the 32-year-old is not unfamiliar with, having led the Hurricanes in their 31-all draw against the British and Irish Lions in 2017, and then taking on the role for the entire 2018 season.

Shields said he is honoured to be given the captain’s armband for 2024, but it is a role he will lean on many of his experienced teammates for support.

“I’m hugely excited and honoured to be leading the Hurricanes this season,” said Shields.

“I admit, after Clarky (Clark Laidlaw) told me I was really stoked, but I did feel a little apprehensive given I had been away for a few years and the quality of leadership we have at the Hurricanes. But at the end of the day, it’s a massive challenge and opportunity I’m excited for, and what makes it more exciting is there is a handful of guys here with so much experience who I know I will turn to for support. We’ll all work together with this one.”

Hurricane #184 said he intends to lead by his actions this season which he hopes will bring out the best out of a young Hurricanes team, and Hurricanes fans.

“Actions. Always by actions is how I like to lead,” said Shields.

“I really want to challenge our environment because challenge always brings better performances. We’ve got a really young team this season so anywhere I can help and encourage and bring the best out of some of the young guys, and the players who have been here for a while, is what I aim for.

“The one thing that’s massive for us at the Hurricanes is connection within our community. Ultimately, we’ve got to play good rugby and perform really well if we want bums on seats, but it certainly means a lot to know we’ve got our community behind us, and we’ll do everything we can to give them a good service and make 2024 an exciting and enjoyable season to watch.”

Having an abundance of experienced leaders in this Hurricanes side didn’t make the captaincy decision an easy one for Hurricanes Head Coach Clark Laidlaw.

However, Laidlaw said he and the other coaches were impressed with Shields’ attitude the moment he stepped back into camp and became an obvious choice as the right man to lead the side.

“The coaches and I do a lot of observing around leadership of the team, and it became reasonably apparent that we have several players that want to lead which is really exciting,” said Laidlaw.  

“But with Brad, he leads really well every day. He’s a great role model around how we want to train; he’s competitive as hell; he’s won Super Rugby; he’s a test match player; he’s bigger and stronger than he’s been before; and he knows what it takes to win and to lead. So, at the end of the day, he became an obvious choice.

“One of the best things about Brad is that he wants to be better. That’s an important trait to have as a leader as it rubs off on everyone else. We as coaches want our captain to represent what we want the team to look like. And we felt with Brad’s experience and his maturity, he’s the right man to lead us forward for this season.”

Laidlaw also echoed Shields’ comments on looking to his teammates for support this season.

“Brad will lead the side, but we do have a number of other players with Asafo and Jordie, who are going to be vice-captains of the team, and our leadership group will support Brad and help the coaches this season.”


Content & Images from – Hurricanes Rugby

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Super Rugby

Waratahs Squad announced for 2024 Super Rugby Season



The NSW Waratahs confirmed its initial 34-player squad for the 2024 Harvey Norman Super Rugby Pacific season with a couple more spots to be decided in pre-season.

Props: Angus Bell, Archer Holtz, Daniel Botha, Harry Johnson-Holmes, Hayden Thompson-Stringer, Tom Lambert, Tom Ross

Hookers: Dave Porecki, Mahe Vaianu, Theo Fourie

Locks: Hugh Sinclair, Jed Holloway, Miles Amatosero, Ned Hanigan

Loose forwards: Charlie Gamble, Fergus Lee-Warner, Lachlan Swinton, Langi Gleeson, Ned Slack-Smith

Halfbacks: Jack Grant, Jake Gordon, Teddy Wilson

Flyhalves: Jack Bowen, Tane Edmed, Will Harrison

Centres: Izaia Perese, Joey Walton, Lalakai Foketi, Mosese Tuipulotu

Outside backs: Dylan Pietsch, Harry Wilson, Mark Nawaqanitawase, Max Jorgensen, Vuate Karawalevu

New signings and re-signings

For all new signings and re-signing, you can follow our 2024 Waratahs Contract tracker.

Content & Images from – Waratahs Rugby

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Super Rugby

Highlanders 2024 Squad Announcement




The Highlanders will usher into the fold a swag of new players for the 2024 Super Rugby Pacific competition.

Some have already made brief appearances last season such as halfback Nathan Hastie, loose forward Oliver Haig, hooker Jack Taylor and midfielders Jake Te Hiwi and Matt Whaanga. Several players have come through the John Jones Steel Highlander’s High Performance Programme such as first-five, Ajay Faleafaga, and loose forward Hayden Michaels.

Also new to the team, and adding depth to the outside back stocks, are the arrival of blockbusting winger and former Moana Pasifika star, Timoci Tavatavanawai, and Blues’ speedster Jacob Ratumaituvuki-Kneepkens. Argentinian winger, Martín Bogado, fresh from the 2023 World Cup, will return to further his Super Rugby experience in New Zealand.

Another former Blues player will add strength to the midfield in the form of Tanielu Tele’a who will be looking to get his career back on track after being hampered by injury in recent seasons.

Former Welsh international, Rhys Patchell, will bring his vital experience to the first-five role which will be good news for young pivots Cameron Millar and Ajay Faleafaga.

All Black, Ethan De Groot, will be joined in the forward pack by veteran loose forward and former Crusader Tom Sanders.

Highlanders’ Head Coach, Clarke Dermody, is looking forward to the preseason and the opportunity to work with his players.

“We have had a few changes in our squad and our coaching group so it will be great to get everyone together and start building some cohesion through the preseason. We will just about have our whole squad together from day one, which is a nice opportunity for us.”

“I am also pleased to see some of the younger players that we have invested in over the last few years start to come through to Super Rugby level. I am sure their individual enthusiasm will be infectious for the squad. 

The team assembles on Thursday 23 November 2023.



Backs:  James Arscott (Otago), Connor Garden-Bachop (Wellington), Martín Bogado (Argentina), Folau Fakatava (Hawkes Bay), Ajay Faleafaga (Otago), Sam Gilbert (Otago), Nathan Hastie (Otago), Jacob Ratumaituvuki-Kneepkens (Taranaki), Jonah Lowe (Hawkes Bay), Cameron Millar (Otago), Jona Nareki (Otago), Rhys Patchell (Wales), Jake Te Hiwi (Otago), Timoci Tavatavanawai (Tasman), Tanielu Tele’a (Auckland), Josh Timu (Otago), Matt Whaanga (Southland)

Forwards: Jermaine Ainsley (Otago), Henry Bell (Otago), Nikora Broughton (Bay of Plenty), Daniel Lienert-Brown (Canterbury), Mitchell Dunshea (Canterbury), Ethan De Groot (Southland), Oliver Haig (Otago), Billy Harmon (Canterbury) , Max Hicks (Tasman), Fabian Holland (Otago), Luca Inch (Tasman), Ricky Jackson (Otago), Ayden Johnstone (Waikato), Saula Ma’u (Otago), Hayden Michaels (Southland), Pari Pari Parkinson (Tasman), Hugh Renton (Tasman), Tom Sanders (Otago) , Jack Taylor (Southland), Will Tucker (Otago), Sean Withy (Otago)




Content & Images from – Highlanders Rugby

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