Thorn excited by Reds' future

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That was important for the Reds because they will go into Investec Super Rugby in 2020 without skipper Scott Higginbotham, Duncan Paia'aua, Samu Kerevi, Sefa Naivalu and Caleb Timu.

 

However, apart from James O'Connor joining the side for two years from last July, the Reds have also retained Jordan Petaia, Taniela Tupou, Izack Rodda and Lukhan Salakaia-Loto.

 

Also signing on have been Junior Wallabies Isaac Lucas, Fraser McReight, Harry Wilson, Tate McDermott, Harry Hoopert, Angus Blyth, Hamish Stewart, Alex Mafi, Liam Wright and Angus Scott-Young.

 

That will allow Thorn his chance of nurturing home-grown talent.

 

"Queensland is always going to produce good rugby players, it's shown over history they can produce very good footballers but the challenge can be keeping them," he told rugby.com.au.

 

"The first thing you want to do is spot them, bring them into your programme and get the best out of their talent and help them refine their game.

 

"But the biggest challenge often is once you've got that, keeping them in Queensland.

 

"That's why for me, a big thing was around Queensland. It couldn't just be about money, it had to be about the mateship – they've come through together, they care about each other – and the connection to the state.

 

"The cool thing about them re-signing is pretty much every one of them…there was no mention of any other place, it was 'I want to stay here'.

 

"You know you've got to a good spot when it's just about doing the deal. To me, that's starting to get to what I know," he said.

 

Thorn is no stranger to continuity in teams. He shared four NRL premierships with the Brisbane Broncos and won a Super Rugby title with the Crusaders.

 

"As a Bronco, I wasn't interested in going anywhere else – and trust me, I had opportunities and offers – but I wouldn't play against the Broncos.

 

"It was the same with the Crusaders. I did go to the Highlanders but that was after I'd pretty much finished up. I went back there because Jamie Joseph asked me to come back from Japan and it was because that's where I'm actually from and I wanted to represent where I actually really did come from.

 

"But for my career – 17 years – in league I had one club, and union, seven years for the Crusaders – I never really wanted to go anywhere," he said.

 

With the retention the Reds have achieved for 2020, he feels a similar attitude is growing among his players.

 

"Now that they've got that longer term stuff dealt with…you can get on with loving your footy, playing your footy and trying to win titles and play finals footy," he said.

 

The job still remained to be done, however. The players had developed experience and combination in the last few years and they knew progress didn't come easily.

 

"Definitely we want to make finals footy this year, but I still believe every team should want that," he said.