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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

Family the motivator for Whitelock’s French move



The 2023 Super Rugby Pacific season will be Samuel Whitelock’s last with the Crusaders.


The veteran Crusader and All Black has taken up a two-year deal with Section Pau in the South of France, where he’ll link up with younger brother Luke Whitelock who joined the Top 14 club in 2019.


“Hannah, the kids and myself are going to head to France to play with my little brother Luke,” Whitelock said.


“I’ve had the privilege of playing with family for Canterbury, the Crusaders and the All Blacks at different stages and this opportunity was too good to pass up.”


Whitelock debuted for Canterbury in 2008 and the Crusaders in 2010. He is Crusader #142 and has currently played 176 games for the franchise – second only to Wyatt Crockett (203). He’s been a part of six championship campaigns and captained the side for several seasons.


“I want to say thank you to everyone for their support through the years, it’s been absolutely immense,” Whitelock said.


You’ve helped me grow, you’ve helped me develop as a player”, but most importantly as a person.”


There are few players in Crusaders history who have made a mark like Sam Whitelock. A mainstay for generations of fans, his presence on the field brought confidence to both the playing group and the fans.


The same could be said for his impact on the All Blacks, having earned many All Blacks caps as captain and respect across the globe as a rugby role model.


Scott Robertson, Crusaders Head Coach, said Whitelock was an “iconic rugby player” who had taught him a lot throughout his coaching career.


“He’s iconic because of his consistency in form at all levels, spanning three decades and being at the top of his game throughout that time,” Robertson said.


He said Whitelock’s game understanding and “his ability to win big moments in big games” set him apart.


“He has an innate ability to connect the group and know what needs to be said at the right time on and off the field.”


“He’s a great mate and a pleasure to coach.”


“If there’s one player who lives the Crusaders culture it’s him, through consistency, his daily habits and his leadership.”


Whitelock will join Pau after the Rugby World Cup.

Content & Images from – Crusaders Rugby

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Super Rugby

Team Naming: Whitelock Back for Waratahs Game



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The Crusaders have named their side to face the Waratahs in Round 14 of Super Rugby Pacific ’23.


It’s the team’s last home game of the regular season before we get into finals. Kick off is Saturday at 4.35pm.


Codie Taylor takes up captaincy with Scott Barrett making the most of a rest week before some big showdowns. He’s joined in the front row by Kershawl Sykes-Martin and Tamaiti Williams.


Sam Whitelock returns this week, itching to take the field after a few weeks sidelined by injury. Both Codie Taylor and Scott Robertson spoke on Thursday morning about looking forward to having his leadership and wisdom back on the grass.


The dynamic duo of Mitch Drummond and Richie Mo’unga return at halfback and first five, their routine well-polished by now.


Look for some antics and acrobatics from Leicester Fainga’anuku and Dallas McLeod on the left and right wings, and a safe pair of hands at the rear with Fergus Burke as fullback.


Reuben O’Neill is set to make his Crusaders debut off the bench this week, the current Taranaki and former Chiefs player bolstering the front row stocks. He’s slotted in well with the team during trainings, Robertson saying he was “familiar to us” and helped relieve the burden on a front row depleted by injury. Brodie McAlister and Seb Calder make up the rest of the replacement front row.


The Crusaders go into this one second on the table, the Waratahs in sixth. There’s no discounting an Aussie side still within reach of a home quarter if the cards fall right for them. Expect a big contest.

Content & Images from – Crusaders Rugby

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Super Rugby

Farewell to a legend



The Highlanders will use the last home game of the year against the Reds on Friday 26th May to farewell Aaron Smith – their most capped player ever. All things going to plan Smith should play his 184th game against the Reds.

Smith joined the club in 2011 at the behest of the then new Highlander’s coach, Jamie Joseph, having previously been in the Blues wider training group, the rest as they say is history.

Widely recognised as one of the best halfbacks in the game his performances over the years have left fans, fellow players and the media in awe of his consistency, energy, skill level and competitiveness.

However, all good things come to an end and on Friday 26th May at 7.05pm Smith will suit up in his Highlanders jersey and run out of the stadium tunnel to be greeted by a home crowd for the last time, from next year he is signed to play in the Japanese League.

Highlanders CEO Roger Clark appreciates it will be a significant moment in the club’s history.

“Aaron has given so much to the club and rugby public in this region. Saying good-bye is not a moment that many will be looking forward to, but he so richly deserves this one last opportunity to sign off an amazing Highlanders career in front of his home crowd.  No doubt It will be a very special occasion for Aaron, Teagan and his children Luka and Leo, we hope it will be a night to remember for all.”

Head Coach Clarke Dermody acknowledges it will be an extra special night for his All-Black halfback.

“He’s been leading our team around the park for the last decade or so and he epitomises everything that a professional player should be – always prepared, highly skilled, competitive, and passionate about his team. He deserves all the recognition he gets, and he has worked very hard for it. Knowing Aaron, he will treat it like any other week, go through his routines, preparing accurately and give it his best on the night. I know I won’t be alone in reflecting on his enormous contribution to rugby in our region as his last home game comes to an end.”

Fans will have another opportunity to watch the master in action when the Highlanders take on the Rebels this Saturday at 4.35pm.

Book your seat to witness history here 


Content & Images from – Highlanders Rugby

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