Queensland Reds 2018 Season Review - Green and Gold Rugby
Queensland Reds

Queensland Reds 2018 Season Review

Queensland Reds 2018 Season Review

Once again the Reds season is over too early, but unexpectedly so.  But what do we make of this year of Super Rugby from a fan’s perspective? We’ve had yet another new coach, off-field dramas, upset wins, upset losses, curious selections, snubbings, rookies, ill-disciple and superb discipline. The team copped flack for their attacking shortcomings yet scored more tries in a regular season than any year since 2011.  They were flaunted as having a defensive edge yet leaked points faster than we could score them. It’s all a little confusing and I’m struggling to get my head around it.

So I’ve brought in support.  Just like last year, GAGR’s brightest minds (or Reddest fans) have got together to dissect the season that was.  Joining me will, again, be Shane “Sully” Sullivan, Kate Elizabeth and Sucker For Red (SFR) while Ben Marczyk joins us for the first time. Let’s get to it!


Sully: C this was a season that held a lot of promise for the Reds, not the least being a change of culture. But the culture instilled by Brad Thorn is toxic, inflexible and unforgiving. The clubs greatest ever points scorer sent to club land for a still unknown sin with no hope of reprieve. A ten year veteran, captain and wallaby stalwart seemingly cast aside in his lowest moment both personally and professionally. This is not culture

Kate: C+ – there was an improvement over last year certainly, and I am sure others will think more kindly and nudge into the B territory. Certainly with equal wins to 2013 perhaps I should be marking higher, but I haven’t just judged on the win-loss ratio here, I have looked at the whole season, including the off-field situation and the administration.

SFR: C. A pass mark. But only just. I guess the season met, maybe even exceeded my expectations, but let’s face it, the expectations were not real high.

Ben: C- While there have been undeniable improvements in many elements of the overall team, it’s structure and results in the raw win-loss overview, there are still far too many negatives to that prevent it being a pass result. If you look at reviews of 2017, many of the same issues haunting the Reds then are still there now. Lapses in discipline, leaky defence are the two most obvious examples. Let’s not forget that the Reds are the only Australian side not to beat a NZ one this season, and that will be a cross to bear into next season.

Reg: C- I’m bumping them up a whole grade this year. The seasons were actually pretty similar (2017 and 2018) but I’m happy to give this one a little more slack because it achieved more with less, so to speak.  Now obviously Thorn ran the risk of being hoisted by his own petard when he announced he would not consider Quade Cooper, Nick Frisby nor Marcus Vanzati less than a week after the squad was announced. Further absences through off-field activity gave the coaching team the ‘youth policy’ out. The excuse got old after a number of losses but it did make the wins more impressive. Still heaps to improve on.


Brad Thorn and James Slipper post match press conference

Brad Thorn and James Slipper after the Brumbies match, before the bombshell

Sully: The 63-28 round 13 loss to the Sunwolves would have to be the on field low light of the year, with winning the dubious honour of most cards for the season not far behind. But there are so many more off field low points. The parking of millions of dollars’ worth of players on the sideline, the Reds financial situation while this madness was happening, the boardroom machinations and ‘retirements’ while Rome burned. As a dedicated fan it seemed the hits would never stop coming.

Kate: Sorry peeps, I couldn’t pick just one. Three things stood out to me, each bringing a new low:

  1. This happened last year, but the MONTHS of chat around Nick Stiles losing his job and being replaced by the rookie Thorn wore thin. Very thin. I thought it was exceptionally unprofessional of the Reds administration to both do this and to do it so poorly. Stilesy deserved better and this for me definitely decided me as someone who isn’t interested in winning at all costs.
  2. Again, last year, but the announcement that players like Quade Cooper and Nick Frisby would not be selected under Thorn was gobsmacking. I could write pages on this topic alone, but for now, I will say that the job of coach is to bring people in and along, not summarily execute.
  3. James Slipper twice being caught with cocaine-positive drug tests. I know it is easy to say there is a zero tolerance on drugs, and to a point I understand that. But this situation is both shocking and sad. For a player to turn to illicit drugs isn’t that surprising in this day and age. I am however surprised it was Slipper and even more surprised that supposedly with a coach supposedly so focused on culture, that Slipper felt this was an option. I understand a lot of people will decry my position because Slipper should take responsibility for his own actions. Agreed, but I still question the availability of support to players. With a coach that clearly has both high standards (see his entire playing career and coaching to date) and a position that he won’t give people a chance (see Frisby and Cooper), I am not sure this is the healthiest of environments. And it has also been made abundantly clear Slipper has no place at the Reds, where to for him? How does this help him recover?
  4. The humiliating loss to the Sunwolves should be here too, but I am too depressed to write about it.

SFR: From a game point of view, THAT game in Tokyo. I wish I could really scrub it from the memory but…….. Arrrrgggggghhhhhhh. From a season point of view – the off field bullshit. The stupidity of two of our supposedly experienced players being involved in drug allegations. The proportion of the salary cap that is (was) playing in club rugby because of what is “apparently” a conflict of egos. The non-selection of others for reasons that are suggested to fall outside on field performance. I accept that there are some significant changes that Thorn wished to bring to the culture of the squad, and probably really needed to, but I am struggling at some of the decisions being made.

Ben: There were two for me and they both coincided with the Reds coming off the bye. The week 8 capitulation to the Brumbies (45-21) and the week 13 embarrassment to the Sunwolves both shared similar tendencies when you look at them closely. The Reds looked disinterested in both games and paid the price. I think of the two, the Brumbies game might be worse, as the Reds had come off a three week road trip to South America and Africa, where they won two and had a chance to win a third despite being a man down. Momentum was with them, and there were murmurs amongst the public that the tide was turning. The Blues game wasn’t far behind as far as low points go.

Reg: I want to try to focus on the on-field stuff because the Slipper situation itself still hurts.  If we were to isolate a single performance than it HAS to be that Sunwolves loss.  The team were just terrible that day and it was embarrassing the extent of the loss.  It should just never have happened like that. But I think we kinda new this team was still capable of such a performance. The real low was those early losses to the Brumbies and then the Tahs. We were playing well prior to that, ignoring that first round loss to the Rebels. We had won three in a row for the first time in yonks and then pushed the Stormers in Cape Town. We came back to Australia with the chance to make a statement in our conference against two teams yet to find their groove. And we shanked it. We leaked tries and the confidence was shattered. Well…mine was.


JP Smith makes a break

JP Smith makes a break in the last round win over the Sunwolves

Sully: The forward packs the Reds trotted out all year. The scrum! The lineout! The general play! All of exceptional quality. But even this is tempered but the realisation that even with this dominant platform we still could barely score a point.

Kate: The win against the Rebels in Round 18 showed absolute scrum dominance and the young players starting to find their groove.

SFR: Coming away with the win in the last two rounds of the season. Both teams had beaten us earlier in the season so it was nice to get some pay back. I also think that these games showed some real development and growth in the squad.

Ben: Oddly, it was the two week phase where we lost to the Highlanders and the Hurricanes. These were games that no one really thought we would win, especially the Hurricanes match, but we nearly won them both. It showed me that the Reds could genuinely compete, and if those situations were repeated in 12 months time, you would like to think that a young squad with more time under their belts would win both of these.

Reg: Reading Ben’s I really want to steal that one. He makes a great point. Those kiwi clashes were a couple of really impressive performances. It was also great to finish the season with a couple of wins over teams who had spanked us early. It was quality rugby too. But my choice is when we weren’t playing pretty rugby, and those three early wins. The loss to the Rebels was terrible but not unexpected. What was unexpected was the way we bounced back. How the team circled the wagons, tightened up their game and played with intensity.  The win over the Brumbies without scoring a try was indicative of our grinding, unrelenting play. We backed up against the Bulls for our first back to back wins at home since 2013 and then dared to dream a little further with a win on the road in Argentina.  For rusted on Reds fans while the tries weren’t plentiful it was terrific to see physicality and intent in their play.


Taniela Tupou receives the Reds Man of the Match award

Taniela Tupou receives plenty of kudos this year

Sully: Taniela Tupou is hands down the most important player the Reds have. No other player in the squad dominated like he did. Sure plenty of guys stood up and were counted but he was the only guy to do it all year long. And he had a boat load of fun doing it. This is a man actually living his dream and savouring every moment.

Kate: Looking back at last year three of us voted Karmichael Hunt as Player of the Year.  My, how things have totally changed.  What an absolute waste. Taniela Tupou had a monstrous year and I am thrilled to see him smarten up and demonise the opposition FR in a smarter way, without getting so many cards. Looking forward to a great career in gold for him, and a super 2019 season.

SFR: Since I am a Forwards girl – JP Smith get my vote. He has been playing very well this and with Tupou and Paenga-Amosa have made a formidable starting front row. Honourable mentions to: Caleb Timu – The bollocking number 8 that Australia has been looking for since Toutai Kefu. Jono Lance – Has provided the stability and experience that was sorely needed in the backline. Will be missed next year.

Ben: The prop in me tells me that I should pick Taniela Tupou however it might just be too obvious a pick. I still have doubts about his technique at times, and once people work him out, his strength won’t be able to carry him. So instead of him, I present to you, Scott Higginbotham. I think what he has done this year in terms of bringing a team together with so many issues coming into the season (Cooper, Hunt, Frisby, Smith and his taxi) has been nothing short of outstanding. Yes, he got himself sent off and missed some games due to injury but the grittiness and the fight never stopped. Honourable mentions go to Izack Rodda and Samu Kerevi.

Reg: Tupou was superb who did some absolutely incredible things this season and who`s scrummaging has developed extremely quickly.  I`m going to go with Izack Rodda though. I thought he was simply outstanding in 2018 in every game he played from his hammering defense to his powerful runs. His lineout work has also developed since inheriting their responsibility once Rob Simmons departed.   You talk about a young tight forward who has matured rapidly and Rodda’s play for the Reds demanded his selection for the Wallabies against Ireland.  Fatigue hasn’t hit yet as his form post-tests as quite possibly stepped up a gear and he was rewarded his first try of the season (v the Rebels) but also by being the captain late in the Sunwolves game once Higginbotham had been replaced.


Jordan Petaia bundels Cameron Clark into touch

Jordan Petaia showed maturity beyond his years in 2018

Sully: Jordan Petaia is my rookie. The kid does all the basics exceptionally and to me that’s so much more important than doing exceptional things sporadically. The young fella looked so good there are calls for a wallaby call up. I’m not one of those calling. Why? Because it’s just too soon to throw a young guy into the toughest contest in the rugby world. Put him in the training squad and see how he goes.

Kate: So many young players but many were blooded last year under Stiles, but for being fleet of foot and making his presence felt in only a few matches, Jordan Petaia wins my Rookie of the Year. Now, we just need another 3-4 like him in our backline.

SFR: Jordan Petaia. Was a fair find this season. Showed some skill and talent on the wing when he was first brought into the game day squad but has looked most at home as a replacement for Samu Kerevi in the 13 jersey. Special mention to Angus Blyth if only for that smile!

Ben: There has certainly been no shortage of rookies to pick from this year, with so many of the Queensland NRC contingent getting opportunities, as well as former garbologist Brandon Paenga-Amosa. If this group can stay together and develop as a group there is a real chance for something special to develop. It is too early to compare them to the group brought in by Phil Mooney prior to his departure but a man can dream.  Until his lineout throws developed the yips after his Wallaby debut I would have picked Paenga-Amosa hands down, but in terms of consistency, staying under the radar and playing with the kind of abrasiveness that you want I have decided to pick Angus Scott-Young. Despite his rugby pedigree he has probably attracted the least amount of hype of this group and it is hard to figure out why. He stands up in defence, puts his body on the line and just plain works his socks off. Honourable mentions to Tate McDermott, Jordan Petaia (particularly the switch to centre) and Harry Hockings.

Reg: Gee there`s a few options here isn`t there? I could go the front row options of the Smith twins or BPA, who were all outstanding. I have a soft spot for Filipo Daugunu, perceived defensive frailties and all, and by topping the team’s try scoring list gives him a strong case. Ahh gee, Angus Scott-Young was terrific too. But it comes down to two for me. Petaia must get the season award for how he so calmly seemed to handle every challenge thrown his way. He was a bloody schoolkid last year with his club probably still considering playing him in colts. But then he was on the bench v the Brumbies, then he was starting v the Lions. He missed tackles like I miss meals – he just didn’t. Then he was picked to replace our biggest attacking weapon in the hardest position to defend. And he just handled it every step of the way. Remarkable composure. I do want to acknowledge Tate McDermott though. The Reds used four scrumhalves this season which can’t help cohesion. Thinks looked up when Moses Sorovi got his chance but then Thorn does what Thorn does and dropped Moses to start Tate in the last match of the year. In his first start for his state, this 19 year old was (in my eyes) the best on ground while on the field. With slick service and an eye for a dart, is it any wonder it was this match we scored our season high points tally?


Caleb Timu offloads to Ben Lucas

The set piece was awe-scrum!

Sully: Some, actually any, creativity in the midfield. The team is greater than its part philosophy works with the right people. But even with this approach you need special players in some positions. Sometimes all you need is one. How many did the Reds have not playing club rugby?

Kate: A more consistent team named each week – they need solid playing time together to gel into a truly strong team (see all of Ben Darwin’s work). I got whiplash some weeks trying to follow who was in and out. Flinging mud at the wall to see what sticks isn’t really a coaching tactic.

SFR: Am I being too simplistic by saying “Wins”? I want to end up on the winning side of the ledger more that on the ‘tother. Sigh. As mentioned before I am a bit of a forwards girls, so I think that it will be important to maintain our forward dominance, or possibly even get it better. The back line is going to take a while to sort out I think but a good stable pack will help.

Ben: I am one of those odd creatures who would be happy to watch 80 minutes of scrummaging  every week but I know that’s not going to fly with the viewing public. In all honesty what I want to see more of next year is consistency of effort. The Reds aren’t going to win every game but the performances against the Brumbies and the Sunwolves mentioned earlier aren’t acceptable either. Maturity of the squad will bring that hopefully as well as turning some of the close losses to wins. If we look at the six wins this year as a base, you would look at 8-10 wins as the target. If you get to the top end of that scale, the Reds will be there or thereabouts come playoff time.

Reg: I want to see more of that intensity we played with in that first batch of wins mixed with the attacking flair we started to display in the last two games.  And I want to see more of the players we blooded this year. We can’t be rolling through players week in week out now. Let’s build this cohesion and let these players find their feet week to week.


Hamish Stewart slips out of a tackle minus his boot

Hamish Stewart can hopefully make the 10 jersey his own in 2019

Sully: We need an elder statesman to guide our young halves and inject some creativity from fullback. Now you could search far and wide and pilfer some guy from our southern brothers or you can save a bit of the money you don’t have and use the guy your already paying for. Actually I’m actually not sure if Israel Folau is the guy you want for that particular job but I do think Quade Cooper is exactly the guy for the job.

I’d like to finish with a direct plea to Brad Thorn – Consider including Quade Cooper and James Slipper in next year’s squad. Obviously strict conditions have to apply. You have a year of coaching under your belt and a lifetime of experience. You can control this situation and if it goes wrong you don’t have to play them.

Kate: Experience will fix some of the things that didn’t go right this year, but we need:

  • backs to support the efforts of the forwards, specifically a fecking flyhalf who isn’t shite
  • a goalkicker to replace Lance (who may be the flyhalf, I don’t care as long as they can kick with 78%+ accuracy
  • a new captain
  • less yellows and no reds

SFR: The backline. The lack of experience in the back line is telling and in some cases has been the difference been winning and losing. With Lance moving on at the end of this year the situation is going to be even more of a problem next year. So, my Christmas wish is for as experiences fly-half who can mentor the likes of Hamish Stewart and help him develop into the player that I think he can be. And while we are at it can we find a full-back. Someone like Tom Banks or Dane Hallett-Petty. You know, a complete full-back.

Ben: Teamwise, there are two elements to this. Firstly, we need to put the ghost of Quade Cooper and Karmichael Hunt to bed. I firmly believe one of the reasons that Hamish Stewart had a few blips of form was that deep down, he doesn’t know if it is HIS team yet and he can’t take them by the scruff of the neck and bring them with him. The frankly ridiculous guerrilla campaign run by Cooper on social media, while getting him some social media popularity won’t have endeared himself to the powers that be at the Reds and if anything, reinforced their view that he isn’t a true team player. I know he is getting rave reviews for his work ethic at Souths but at the same time, intentionally or not, he is destabilising the team he is trying to get back into. Seems I had some pent up emotion there. Might need a spin off article to explore further…

Back to the team, with Ben Lucas, Jonno Lance and George Smith leaving, it makes an even younger squad so it will be interesting to see whether Brad Thorn looks to some older hands again or continues down the path of youth. Part of me desperately wants Liam Gill to return to fill Smith’s shoes and be the example to the pack. The NRC squads should give us a sense of where 2019 will take us. Look for names like Isaac Lucas, Nick Jooste and others to be in the mix for some of the spots and perhaps a few wildcard returns from overseas.

Overall, the attendances have been frankly terrible and the atmosphere funereal at times. The plaza pre match lacks the vibe it did a few years ago. 2019 is a World Cup year, so you hope a strong start to 2019 will bring with it some more bums on seats and more atmosphere.

Reg: There’s plenty on the field we need to fix and I hope high in the coach’s priority list is upskilling some goal kickers. But my biggest hope for next year is that the QRU re-energise match day.  I took two of my sons to the Waratahs match this year. You know, traditional rivals – ‘as long as we beat NSW’ and all that. And with five minutes to go before kick-off Suncorp was practically empty and the vibe was dead. I assume it’s all budget related but I’d love to think we can get fans re-engaged with the team and the game and make those match day experiences a little more special, more memorable.  With Tupou set to be one of the biggest stars in World Rugby very soon, plus some exciting talent in the likes of Timu, Tui, McDermott, Sorovi, Stewart, Paia’aua, Kerevi, Perese and maybe even Israel Folau we have a ‘product’ worth buying into. It just needs to be packaged up in a nice bow and shown to people more I reckon. Let’s hope so at least.

We are but five Reds fans and these are our thoughts. Join in the conversation below and give us your answers to these questions.



  • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

    Really good article, thanks, everyone.

    I think the Reds have a powerful pack and some class backs from 11-15, if you can get the 9/10 working it may be a really positive 2019.

    Can I ask though, everyone, what do you think of Sully’s perception of Thorn’s culture?

    • Honestly, we don’t know the details behind the QC or the Slipper situations. Is it actually toxic, or with both of them is there a situation where he inherited players on a final warning in QC’s case and a second warning in Slipper’s case and they kept offending in a case of “I’m bigger than you, I’ve been here longer and I’m more important to the club than you are!” ?

      Now, that’s absolutely speculation on my part and probably not true. If there was something legally actionable in it, one would have to wonder why the Reds are still paying them for example.

      But the situation with Slipper at least, how many chances do you want to give him both as a fan and a coach? The first time you recommend him to some support network and tell him as long as he stays clean, he can carry on playing. If he gets caught using again… As senior player you expect him to be smart about it and set an example, surely? He uses again and gets caught. It is establishing a culture that one mistake and you can get some support, but you have to take responsibility for your actions too. It’s not that long ago that a British prop, who had played for England was banned from playing for a year for testing positive for cocaine btw.

      Also worth bearing in mind, while fans are bemoaning the dismissal of Slipper, they’re singing the praises of the tight five this year. The pack have certainly responded to Thorn, so he must be doing something right, whatever the fans feel about the banishment of their old favourites.

      • One of the Reds grips about Slippers case is the fact they weren’t made aware of his first positive test. We have no idea what support Rugby Australia offered but I believe if they had involved the Reds things may have turned out differently.

        If one thing comes out of the Slipper affair I hope it’s a review of RA procedure in the instance of a positive test result. Surely someone at the Reds should know?

        • That may well be true – and surely this is part of the problem. I can understand that the clubs and RA are not trumpeting all this news from the rooftops but it does mean that as fans, whether of the Reds or of rugby in general, we’re speculating with half the information.

          We don’t know what went on between QC and Thorn, we don’t know what went on between Slipper and Thorn. We don’t know what went on between RA and Slipper, and between RA and the Reds about Slipper.

          However, looking at how the pack performed this year I still question your assertion that he has established a toxic situation in the club. The real issues tended to arise once the ball emerged from the forwards and the halfbacks failed to do anything with it far too often. That’s more a youth thing I think, and either a big name signing or packing them off to skills camp, possibly with an ITM Cup team or two if Thorn has any favours left in New Zealand – not as players, just to participate in skills training sessions – might work miracles.

        • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

          It seemed to me as someone who didn’t watch the Reds as closely as the Brumbies that the Reds’ tight 5 struggled with their discipline?

        • As someone who watched them occasionally I would say they struggled at times but their discipline broadly improved over time. To my mind that’s the mark of a good coaching set up.

          I’m really not claiming Thorn is the second coming but for a rookie head coach and a young side I think he’s done a good job. I’m not a fan of the Reds in particular but under his leadership the side have improved by a couple of wins, have beaten the side ranked second on the table overall and have shown signs of improvement over the season to my mind. There have been some terrible losses and some good performances that were also losses against very good teams (the Sunwolves for the former, the Canes for the latter) so relatively small improvements could easily see them add 2 or 3 more wins next year, a bigger improvement could see them add 4 or 5 more wins and be in the mix for a quarter-final, although that’s probably more realistic for 2020 if Thorn is given that long.

          That’s much easier to say as someone who isn’t a fan. I didn’t suffer through those ten losses, be they the embarrassing ones or the ones where the fans went away feeling “we played well tonight, even though we lost to a better team” which is always cold comfort. But then last year I didn’t celebrate only 4 times and drown my sorrows 11 times either. With the extra match that was played under the new system you’d have to guess at the equivalent record probably being 4 wins and 12 loses.

          Only getting 2 more wins may not sound like a lot, but the ‘Tahs only got 3 more wins and ended up winning the conference and going on to get a semi-final trip to Jo’berg too. If the Reds can add another 2 wins next year they’re possibly in the mix for winning the conference.

        • GO THE Q REDS

          Agreed… .So they can change the culture.. … .

      • nmpcart

        According to Thorn the scrum performance is the result of Lillicrap’s work.

        Slipper didn’t test positive in a post match test so the ban is not the same as if he was seen as ‘performance enhancing’. Stupid thing he did I agree, but as has been pointed out by Sully, the QRU weren’t even aware of failing the first test.

        • Any decent head coach will credit the specific coach for an individual element but still has an effect on it. From the overall culture of the club to integrating the various coaching elements to whatever.

          And the failings of communication between RA and QRU are not Thorn’s fault, surely?

        • GO THE Q REDS

          Remember when Thorn said hed be ashamed to be a Red with the 2017 performances? Well Thorn was a Reds coach in 2017……apparently he takes no responsibility for how the team performs. Just as well considering the Reds had the worst attack this year and put in some pretty horrific efforts.

      • GO THE Q REDS

        QUADE on a last warning? That’s a weird hypothises…..seeing as everything coming out has been golden.. … but more importantly they would have jumped on ANY excuse they could find to free up the books…..how SAD

        • It’s so nice to see you didn’t respond in a knee jerk fashion and went on to read the bit where I said “and it’s probably not true.”

        • Gallagher

          I think what Go The QLD Reds was saying to you was based on your negative hypothesis towards Quade, you could also have said “Is Thorn actually toxic as he inherited a star, qualified, leader, experienced, seat filling player that he doesn’t know how to utilise with his limited coaching credentials and ability, and now has drug issues in a young team that weren’t there before”. But you didn’t, so I agree, its a weird hypothesis.

        • That is a reasoned counter-argument I’m moderately happy to take on board. Certainly happy to reply to more sensibly. I was hoping from the opening sentence it was clear that I was presenting a possible counter-argument to the “Thorn is toxic” but it was, equally – and backed up by the later line that it was all probably wrong – a speculative one.

          I wouldn’t accept your entire sentence however. Unless there’s news that I’ve missed, the drugs problem that is present in the Reds doesn’t really appear to have emerged under Thorn’s leadership and it appears to be focussed in senior players (Hunt and Slipper don’t count as ‘young’ any more) who were around and doing it under previous administrations as I under the stories. Equally, you’re implying there’s fault on Thorn’s side for not using Cooper, I’m suggesting that there could be something behind the scenes to which we’re not privy that has taken it out of his hands. Your interpretation may also be true. Something between those extremes may also be the case. However, the real problem is we just don’t know. We’ve seen the results, we know nothing about the decisions and processes to get there.

          Despite that we can look at the outcome on the pitch and draw our own conclusions about how well Thorn has done and the culture he has established. To me, as I’ve said not a Reds fan so the pain of the losses doesn’t bite hard, I’ve seen a young team with a woefully inexperienced half-back pairing who have gradually improved over the season. They’ve had good wins (like the Lions), bad losses (like the Sunwolves), played well and lost against good sides, but if you look at their season they are playing with more discipline, more understanding of their game plan and fewer mistakes as the season has gone along. They’re not perfect, they’re still a work in progress, but they have improved. Next season they are likely to keep improving because that allegedly toxic culture seems to enable the players to learn from their mistakes and the team to improve, even if it’s not as fast as the fans would like.

        • Gallagher

          You seem to have a lot to say for someone who admits they don’t even watch all the Reds games?

          The halves have not progressed as Thorn kept chopping and changing and next year’s best remaining pairing barely has one win to their name, the forwards have only progressed from what effectively Stiles put together for him, and if Quade had done something legitimate enough to drop him, they wldn’t have just kept him on the books, that’s just not how businesses work, clearly leaning to it being either Thorn is taking it personal or is plain not up to it. If a coach isn’t responsible for results and how they are achieved, then why isn’t Stiles who has a better coaching record still around?

          I am a Reds fan that demands more than just chipping away and making little to no progress, we are a powerhouse state languishing at the bottom, since when do we deserve to ‘develop coaches’, sack the Muppet and get someone who is proven and will use the excellent cattle they have to make an immediate impact, simple.

        • I always have a lot to say when I have an opinion. I am strongly of the opinion that, from what we can observe Thorn has not created a toxic atmosphere.

          As someone who is not a Reds fan, I believe he has taken a franchise that has been bumping along the bottom for several years and started it improving. I think he deserves to be given a chance to continue that improvement. However, I can understand and totally respect your opinion that you are a powerhouse state, you have excellent cattle and you should be capable of making more of an impact with them immediately. Clearly I disagree but I totally accept that’s both a reasonable and understandable position to have.

        • Can I just add (I said I had a lot to say when I had an opinion), if you can set aside your perfectly valid fan’s opinion that QC should play pretty much regardless, how do you attempt to explain the current circumstance of QC banished to play club rugby but Thorn kept on.

          While I regard the Reds having had an improving season, with hope for the future, I will readily agree that 6 wins from 16 games is hardly setting the world alight.

          When Thorn announced Cooper would not be picked, the board at Queensland could have sacked Thorn… certainly if they thought it was a trivial matter as it seems a lot of people are suggesting. Equally clearly, whatever Cooper has done is not enough to contravene basic employment law, so they can’t directly sack him.

          Come the end of the season that 6 from 16 record, plus 4 bonus points, worst of the Aussie teams (although only by one win and the odd bonus point) would certainly be grounds for sacking Thorn if they wanted to, particularly on top of any suggestion that his actions wrt to QC were unreasonable.

          So, as a fan, do you think the board are incompetent? Do you think Thorn has a contract that basically stops them firing him? (If so, I bet a lot of coaches want to know the name of his agent.) But that’s just a different sort of incompetence. Do you think they consider it’s cheaper to wait out QC’s contract than take him to court, or to publicly humiliate a third party when they announce the reason for firing him? People in business seldom make purely business decisions and that would be one explanation.

          From the outside the decision to send QC into the wilderness but to continue to pay him a lot of money seems bizarre. Even to me. While I like what I’ve seen from Thorn (and presumably so do the upper management at the Reds unless they’ve sacked him overnight) keeping them both on the books seems distinctly odd. Any ideas as to what is going on? Do you really just back your coach to the tune of $800k p.a. to a (former) star who he won’t have playing for the side?

        • Who?

          Eloise, I don’t think there’s a single Reds fan who can point at the QRU board and say they think it’s competent. And that’s not based on one decision (QC), that’s based on a multitude of decisions. There’s still people on there who hired Graham – twice.
          Sacking Thorn would be like sacking Graham (which they didn’t do as quickly as they should’ve done) – an admission of a mistake. And off the back of sacking Stiles after a single season as sole head coach, and O’Connor from co-head coach (what a farce that was!), it would’ve simply created more controversy (how’s the team supposed to improve with a revolving door of coaching staff?). The board created a problem, then backed themselves into a corner. Can’t sack the coach, because that’ll cause controversy with one part of the crowd. Can’t legally sack the players the coach refuses to pick (in spite of the fact that he himself had to change his own path as a player – I get that Hunt’s no spring chicken, but QC has no clear history of indiscretions in the last 5 years, and Slipper’s issues are new, only occurring after Thorn took control of the side), because there’s no grounds for sacking them. There is no right solution for them, because they’d already successfully burnt all their options. And to further compound it, now we’re hearing that a bloke who’s led the team to yet another dismal season and hasn’t yet shown an aptitude for strategic thinking is being set up to be a 10 year coach?!
          So yes, the Reds board is incompetent. They’re almost as bad as the RA Board (though they appear less likely to be criminally incompetent, compared to the allegations around Clyne). And they’re backing their coach to the tune of more like $1.6-$1.9 Million per year (QC/Hunt/Slipper, that price doesn’t include Frisby, given he’s found an exit).

        • Gallagher

          Couldn’t have said it better Who, Reds Coaching and Board are respectively inexperienced and incompetent).

        • Brendan Hume

          I think Thorn has spoken about why he didn’t want Quade – he thought the attack and defense from 2017 wasn’t up to scratch and wanted to move in another direction. I’m not sure why you keep bringing up some imaginary indiscretion by Quade. Thorn doesn’t like him and doesn’t want him… it’s pretty simple to me.

        • I think you’re right about at least one bit. I started the comment about an imaginary discretion by Quade as a throwaway line and I’ve ended up defending it far more vigorously than it deserves or I intended when I wrote it.

          Occam’s razor suggests your explanation should be right but something about it doesn’t sit right with me. I’m reminded of the counter-argument that, when it comes to (rugby) there is an explanation that is simple, compelling and wrong.

          However, that might just be that at some level I simply want Thorn to succeed. He was never, in my book at least, what you would call a great test player, not even really what you’d call a great Super Rugby player. If you think about great locks around his era, you’d look at Eales (before his time a bit), Johnson maybe, Matfield and Botha certainly. Whitelock and Retallik after him. On the other hand, you could never really fault Thorn for his effort, his commitment on the pitch and off the pitch to being ready to play. His commitment to being there and able to do what was needed for the team, even when he wasn’t the most gifted lock in the world, was perhaps what made the AB selectors and the Crusaders selectors – neither group noted for their sentimentality – keep picking him.

          We shall see. I certainly sympathise with whoever it was that, as a lifelong Reds fan, felt that the board should not pick a coach to learn his trade, they should have picked someone who knows it so the Reds were challenging for top spot this year. My gut tells me (it’s wrong sometimes though) that the same drive that made Thorn fight and train to be good enough to keep getting picked and keeping playing at test level will make him fight and learn and improve as a coach rapidly. Crazy hijinks or just a big call over QC regardless. I still wouldn’t be surprised to see the Reds seriously in with a chance for winning the conference next year.

        • SuckerForRed

          Eloise, I have been following your discussion here with interest and tend to agree with some of what you say, (it is always good to see what people think sans red glasses), but then again agree with a lot of what the others are saying. Here is my view on the whole…… calamity…

          – There are some serious issues on the transparency of the actions of the QRU board over the last few years with regards to appointments of staff including coaches, players and support staff.

          – The dismissal of Stiles was just bizarre. He is co-head coach for less than a season, you give him the reins for one season without allowing him to build his own squad and then dismiss him for poor performance. His replacement then seems to have been given carte blanche with regards to squad make up and player management. Was there some conflict in the ranks that we don’t know about? Maybe. Did the QRU learn their lesson and work out that they need to give the coach more control? Maybe. Was Thorn the only option, and knowing this he drove a hard bargain? Maybe.

          – I am on the fence about Thorn as a coach. I agree with you about his work ethic as a player, and on the face of it players that have to work hard to “make it” generally make the better coaches because they know what has to be done and what players can attain with hard work. However, I think that some of the decisions that have been made perhaps show his inexperience in coaching. As a coach (or manager in business) you need to be able bring people along with your plans. Just because someone doesn’t see something the same way as you, doesn’t mean that they are wrong and cannot or should not contribute to an organisation. Yes, some issues are sackable, but should your hair style really be one of them? (Yes, I know I have had a chop at players in the past about their hair cuts but that is either purely on an aesthetic basis or because they spend more time brushing their hair out of their eyes then catching the ball.) Is he able to put personal feelings aside and bring others into the fold for the good of the team? Only time will tell.

          – Do I want Thorn sacked? FOR THE LOVE OF GOD NO! Do I agree with some of his selections? No. Do I think someone else could have made a better fist of the season? Who knows. Is Thorn the best option we have right now? I don’t know who else would be available & willing so I guess I have to say yes. Give him a chance. (Unlike what was afforded to the last coach.) I get really sick of coaches being sacked because they haven’t taken a struggling team for bottom to top in a season. For christ’s sake, it takes a while to get your head around all the personalities, skills and machinations of a team to be able to see who works, who doesn’t, who will change, who will move on regardless, and who will stay. If the only thing that comes out of Thorn as head coach for a few years is a bunch of players with the work ethic of an All Black and a little humility, then I think that we will be heading in the right direction.

          So, until Link, Stilesy & a few others write their autobiographies I am not sure we are going to be any better informed as to what has been happening over the last few years. I have resigned myself to the fact that I am never going to understand some of the decisions that are made within rugby in Australia. I have also come to the conclusion that I will probably now stop supporting the Reds or the Wallabies because of said decisions. Although my resolve has been sorely tested….

        • I had decided after my reply to Brendan, above, that I was drawing the line under the discussion but this reply spoke to me.

          As someone who follows the news about rugby in Australia but isn’t a Reds fan, I’ll be honest, I need to look up their history of bizarre decisions. I read them at the time but they don’t really stick because they’re not dramatically important to me. I remember the name of Stiles but I couldn’t remember the details around him being a co-coach, his rapid dismissal and so on. When contrasted to the way they’re treating Thorn, that’s certainly odd.

          I do agree that some of Thorn’s decisions are odd. I don’t know about his NRL career, but in his rugby career he comes from two organisations that emphasised continuity of selection, established partnerships and then he doesn’t seem to have given his team a chance to do that.

          Is there a fan in the world that agrees with all the coaches selections? Go and read an AB fan site about the continued selection of SBW for example. I’m sure there are others, but he seems to be the really divisive one right now. I figure if I grumble about two or three of the selections, then the coach is doing a good job. Up to five and you can’t really say that’s bad – and you have to bear in mind things like squad rotation, injuries and so on. To divert for a moment, one of my constant gripes about Cheika is that a lot of Wallabies fans pick teams with 8, 9, 10 players different to Cheika’s team and the fans have remarkable coherence to each other.

          I’m not 100% sure that the autobiographies will really reveal what’s happened. They might give a perspective on it, but I think at least some of it is going to be he said…, he said…, I said… and everyone is going to have a different perspective that won’t match up to give a really coherent picture. But I might be wrong.

          I do think the ARU/RA and several of the Super Rugby clubs seem to have the management skills of… well my local amateur rugby club here in the UK seems better run to be honest, with their budget of £2.50/week. (It’s a bit more than that, but it probably wouldn’t pay for the junior trainee physio at the Reds.) I’m sorry to hear their inadequacies have driven you to stop supporting your teams. It’s always a sad day when a fan gives up on their teams, especially for off-pitch stupidity.

        • GO THE Q REDS

          Agresive but I 100% agree.. …player management and results are NO better this year…in fact IMHO they’re overall FAAR worse then they’ve been for years. The only reason the Reds have had some decent games win or loose this year is more likely because of the Players themselves really stepping up on occasions. No player is there unless they have the ability. But the horrendous up down up down consistency has to be a coaching issue. If it’s not. ….why wasn’t there more player dumpings and timeouts to reflect the poor performances?

        • GO THE Q REDS

          Yes exactly, and then treated QUADE like dirt by naming him in the squad then cutting him at the most inappropriate time for any player to be able to make a move to another club. He also openly blamed QUADE for the poor performances of 2017 despite us all knowing QUADE didn’t play all year and had injury niggles all the way till near the end of the year… ..where his form was very solid making a stunning display of calm game management to deliver a final season game win Vs the table topping brumbies. His great form extended into motm performances throughout theNRC and now for South’s. .. taking them from wooden spooners to finalists with stunning form. But yeeeah let’s axe him for no reason given too the fans and let the fair-weather fans jump on Thorns obvious QUADE hate train.

        • GO THE Q REDS

          In YOUR words you were ‘Speculating’ with a ‘Hypothesis’. Maybe next time try hiding how you really feel by offering a speculated hypothesis that supports the player as well. ….forgive me for being blunt.


      Well his overall theme seems to hint at what you’d expect probably 99% of ANY club(let alone a struggling young team) would do. . ..PLAY QUADE COOPER. As for the Culture specifically? Well there was quite a spike in poor discipline… Off field frames and DRUGS that’s never been there. .. .so you be the judge of someone claiming CULTURE CULTURE.

    • Hoss

      Its interesting reading isn’t it. Rugby in Oz has form here. Wendell Sailor was marched for illicit drugs, Tuquiri passport stamped never again for breaching team protocols (took a woman to his room leading up to test i believe). The drinking session under Link that ended in suspensions.

      At the end of the day the coach lives and dies by the results and the culture behind it that drives attitude and performance.

      As a Tah’s Fan AND an Oz Rugby fan i have no problem with BT drawing a line in the sand re his culture, his terms. If you owned a business that had 100 employees and turned over $50m pa you are entitled to say this is who i am, this is what i expect and these are the non-negotiables.

      Just because he inherited X,Y or Z players does not mean they have to figure in his plans.

      In sport, like in business, you build people to build success, at the very least the Coach is entitled to say ‘these are the people i am going to build / invest in’ – then he lives or dies by the sword.

      I reckon a ‘C’ for 2018 is about right, but how exciting for all of us, as i reckon a ‘B’ or ‘B+’ gets them in the 8 next year.

      Good luck BT and go the Reds – except when they play the Tah’s.

      • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

        I don’t have a problem with him choosing not to use them (and let’s face it, the cases of Hunt and Sipper are very different), but in regards to Quade and Frisby it seems from the outside that Thorn didn’t even give them a reasonable chance to prove they were capable of following his lead and playing within his system. They were discarded without being given a chance in my eyes. I don’t see why drawing a line in the sand was needed or even more useful than seeing if they could play within his systems and then deciding not to use them.

        I also want to know what has happened to Tuttle?

        That being said, Thorn hasn’t complained about a lack of players, he has just gone on with the job.

      • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

        For what it’s worth I can see the grade being anywhere from a C- to a C+.

        The level to which they’ve achieved without QC, Hunt, Slipper or Frisby is very good and makes me think it should b a B-.

        However, the treatment of Quade/Frisby, the off field issues (which I don’t think Thorn can be blamed for) and the lack of any sort of consistency in defence makes me think it should be a C-.

        Weird year aye?

      • SuckerForRed

        Just re the Wendell Sailor difference – Sailor tested positive on an “in competition” WADA test. Hence the penalty was a WADA/World Rugby (IRB) penalty. Now I can only assume that Slippers tests were not, therefore different penalties. I reiterate that this an assumption on my part not knowing exactly what, where & how the tests were done. If all circumstances were the same then…… I can only assume that the penalties and classification of Cocaine has changed over the intervening years. Or at least hope that is why there is a difference.

        • Hoss

          I must admit the exact details around Big Dell have become hazy for me over time, i just recall there was no second chance and he got 2-3 years (i think), which effectively ended his career.

          Really enjoyed the article mate and thanks to all contributors to the piece for some great stuff.

          Who’d be a coach huh !!

  • GeorgiaSatellite

    Thanks for the write-up, folks. I enjoyed that.

    SFR, I know you said a couple of times that you were a ‘forwards girl’, but I think soliciting for a ‘bollocking Number 8′ might be a bit much. This is a family site.

    • SuckerForRed

      Well….. I guess I could have used “bullocking” but not sure that has the same connotations. You get my drift anyway. :-)

  • Gallagher

    SULLY – your C rating for the year literally is what I think also, and it seriously depresses and angers me that Thorn won’t use Quade as you mention. There isn’t a single person that supports rugby that would honestly admit that playing Quade wouldn’t bring an injection of supporters to each game. How can the board accept that when results have not shown any significant improvement, and hence make a product that generates more desperately needed dollars?

    Imagine what it would do to the bottom line by getting bums on seats by using Quade, and freeing up $100K+ to use on some actual advertising to get more hype… anyone remember March to the Match, those where the days…

    I didn’t even know who Souths really where prior to this year, now I am going to their last home game of the year to cheer on Quade as it may be the last time we will see him play in Brisbane (oh except that they will be at Ballymore in the Finals the following week because he single handedly also took them from cellar dwellers and scoring the worst for and against by almost double that of second last, to finalists!).

    If a coach cant make those kinds of figures add up and make it work, despite his well UNDOCUMENTED shortfalls, then he isn’t a good coach, period.

    BEN – I’d more than welcome a spin off article as you suggest re Quade! How can you say that the reason Hamish hasn’t been successful is because he doesn’t think it is HIS team yet, and then indicate that it is Quade’s fault? I’d love to see these social media comments you refer to where he is being toxic? I would suggest Hamish hasnt been more successful for three other reasons;
    1. He just hasnt got the same class as Quade, same for Harris, McIntyre or Lance in recent years, and everyone knows it.
    2. Thorn didn’t use him at all for the majority of the year, not even off the bench, sat behind a player he knew was leaving at the end of the year.
    3. He hasn’t had the access to learn even in the squad at training from accomplished back line players such as Quade.


      I too would love too see a comprehensive transparent article on Quades apparent bad form on social media. Personally I believe that to be garbage as he’s one of the most watched people in rugby. I also am not impressed how easily Quades name gets thrown in with all the trouble makers despite having done nothing. I expected better.

      • RobC

        Ditto. Thanks for raising this Gallagher. I was about to mention it also. QC bad form on social media WTF?!?

    • Who?

      Point 2 really is key here. If you’re going to (effectively) sack a bloke who’s likely your highest paid player, your most experienced player, your highest profile player, you make sure you’ve got someone to fill the role. Now, if you’re going to do that, you’ll usually pick a young bloke, and say you’re going to build for the future. So you might go and grab some cover for depth – which was Lance and Lucas – but you don’t then go and play them 90% of the season.
      McIntyre. I don’t think he was top level – never thought it. But at least he was backed and given a chance to shine. Stewart, if he’s going to feel secure and grow into the bloke who runs that backline, needs the same opportunity that McIntyre was given.
      So to have Lucas and Lance around for a singular season, and give Stewart very limited game time during that season… It’s just not wise. Because suddenly you’re going into another season in almost the same position you entered this one. But given Lucas played a lot of 9 – meaning it was Lucas at 9, Lance at 10 – it means that the average number of caps in the halves drops yet further. If Stewart had played the majority of the season at 10, with Lucas often at 9, it means that you’ve got an inexperienced 9 partnered by a (slightly) more experienced 10 next year, which is a better prospect than we’re facing.
      It’s even more fascinating given that Thorn had Stewart at 10 and Paia’aua at 12 through the NRC, won the title with them there, and still didn’t trust them…

      • GO THE Q REDS

        Now add in the timing of said sacking and you now have the most controversial event in Australia rugby history with zero transparency. Meanwhile every other team is laughing at the Reds…..putting a tick in the win box next year as they’re about to be in an even worse position then this year in the WHOLE backline.

        • Old_Laurentian

          Lack of transparency is a key issue. Why are supporters and ticket holders not beng told the reason for such a baffling decision? Something still stinks in the Reds management (if management is the correct wirord for their antics). I am just another long term season ticket holder that no longer attends their games. How they haven’t been booted out lock stock and barrel is beyond me.

    • disqus_NMX

      Absolutely spot on from start to finish Gallagher!

      I too had no idea who Souths were, but have watched more Souths games than Reds this year. Which is easy, as I haven’t watched any Reds beyond the highlights on YouTube. Why would I. Why would you pay to go to a Reds game when you can go to a Souths game and see the most exciting player in the country for nothing.

      As an aside, I only wish the butchers that make highlights packages would completely re-arrange their mentality of what the best parts of a game are. Every dominant scrum, every dominant play, every build up to a try, all these belong. Very few goal kicks belong, only if they are crucial to the match, or spectacular in distance and angle. Make them 10-15 mins, instead of 2-5. I’d do it myself (and suspect it would make a popular YouTube channel), but I really don’t have the time or inclination.

    • Old_Laurentian

      Spot on Gallagher. While I am currently on the other side of the world my heart is always Red. The QC issue, whatever it is, is too pathetic for words. I will always put my money through a ticket office to watch him. Thorne is still an apprentice coach and appears to want to project a ‘tough guy’ image, which works well with youngsters, but not with adults. QC for all his faults appears to me to have a great Rugby brain, a fact that many who point out his poor tackling technique appear to miss. He was fulsomely praised by Alan Jones this year, and I would suggest that Jones’ coaching record is sonething that Thorne can only aspire to.

      Thorne seems to be a bear of very little brain with poor people skills. Just imagine what a proper coach like Ewan McKenzie could do with this team!


    I’m a DIEHARD reds fan.. .. Haven’t missed watching ANY super games in over 10 years. …and it just so happens I’ll be borrowing a wheelchair and dragging my disabled broken body down too watch Quade play for South’s on the weekend. Something I wouldn’t even consider for a Reds game this year.
    I also find it very interesting all these off field behavioral and drug issues somehow were not curtailed by Thorns Culture changes…. It seems far worse this year. Hmmm

  • juswal

    A damned good read, if a bit dispiriting. Thanks to the contributors.

  • RobC

    Thanks gents. A great read

    My rating C-
    Low point the same. Wolves
    High point the matches up to the Wolves
    Player of the year. Same. Taniela
    Rookie. A forward. Liam Wright

    See more of? Duncan Paiaaua with the pill. And as the 10. The sooner the better to Reds and WBs

    To fix? Too many to list. To boil down to one, the coaches:
    – All of them. Starting with BT.
    – We need more experienced staff who are also successful e.g. Fisher in the Brums.
    – Why do you think the Brums have been playing better lately

    • SuckerForRed

      I am sure Kate & myself will take “gents” as the compliment it was intended. ;-)

      As to Duncan as 10, I am really not sure. I think that he is better used as a ball playing 12. When I have seen him in 10 he just seems to struggle a bit and appreciates the split second extra time he gets a bit wider out. Is this just an experience thing? Not entirely sure. Maybe. He is reasonable cover at 10 but naturally plays better at 12. Natural instincts are important and a bit hard to change.

      • RobC

        Whoops so sorry ladies! Shame, shame. Lazy of me

        I think re DP, it’s firstly confidence then experience. They pushed him too early in 2015 when replacing an injured QC

        Regained his confidence playing for the Eagles as 12. He is a genuine triple threat which is the basic requisite for a modern 10.

        I think he can play 12 brilliantly but the intention should be to be the Red 10, eventually challenging WB10 in a year or so

        • SuckerForRed

          Yeah. Yet to be convinced and happy if I am proved wrong.

        • RobC

          Yep Understand how many might see the same

          Ill add a couple of pointers to stir your thoughts. DP potential as a 10 is miles ahead of Hamish. Not just as a playmaker triple threat. But also as a onfield and off field leader. He’s the qld country captain

          There has been talk last year of DP being moved to 10 at national level. But that idea has, for now been scuttled due to the QC, Lance, Hamish dynamic

          Mind boggles really what qru and the coaches are thinking

        • Who?

          I’m with SFR – not at all confident that DP’s a 10, or necessarily a better option at 10 than Stewart. Thinking that he’s better at 10 because he’s the Qld Country captain ignores that he’s got no behavioural issues yet Thorn left him out of the team for half the season, and that he’s the Qld Country captain from 12.
          Referring to the concept of playing him at 10 for the Wallabies has no relevance, because Cheika doesn’t pick genuine 10’s. He doesn’t understand them. He thinks that Hodge is a 10, and Foley, when they’re both natural ball runners. And also, Cheika doesn’t care where Super coaches play their players, he plays them where he wants them. He picked 7A’s from LHP at the Brums to play THP for the Wallabies – that’s a more skill-specific switch (in Cheika’s mind, who’s played Hodge at 10, 14 and 15) than most.
          My mind boggles at much of what elite Aussie coaches are thinking. Or perhaps not thinking…

        • RobC

          Hey Who? How are you.

          Don’t write him off yet mate.

          Yeah, the Captain thing is just a supporting point regarding leadership. Not the main point which is…

          Duncan has all the speed skills and knowledge to be the Red 10.

          I won’t bag Hamish, I like him and he’s still v young. But it’s obvious that in all factors kick pass run, creating opportunities there’s no comparison.

          Good point about BT leaving DP out. This is clearly an issue about the coach not the player:
          – BT wanted Samu and CFS in mid field
          – Then Lance and Toua to cover QC, K

          Maybe it’s the tackling? Cos he missed a few this season though he’s been pretty good last year .

          Anyway, one of the best players on the park misses out. He’s one of the most dangerous players on the park on both sides in terms of creating opportunities.

          Same as last year. If you watched last year. DP was already playing at QC level, or better in some games.

          The main reason why DP is not a ten? It is not skill:
          – it’s his own choice. He had a nightmare start in 2015
          – which hammered his confidence as a 10 and a player.
          – And has since opted for 12 at club level and bounced back.

          With the right mindset, mentor and coach he will excel as a pivot

        • Who?

          Hey Rob, good to see you round here a bit more again…
          I don’t know that DP’s got all the knowledge or, most importantly, the vision to be the Reds 10. I don’t see speed as a major issue at 10 – I don’t care if the 10’s not a fast runner, because I don’t want the 10 running the ball very often. Skill, no question that Duncan’s good enough. It’s more about natural position and best use for me, not Duncan’s value as a player.
          I don’t agree that DP was at QC’s level last year. Because DP wasn’t running the show for most of the season, he was playing outside QC, which takes off pressure. DP wasn’t required to make the call.
          A major issue – even for Lance, but moreso for Stewart and DP – is that, in 2017, despite issues (which were more based around the complete ineffectiveness of the pack in 2017, which wasn’t an issue in 2018 – that 2017 backline behind the 2018 pack, they’d have had SOOOO much fun!), there was experience in that backline. DP at 12 was surrounded by QC and Hunt – that’s a great place to play some Rugby, with two experienced and level heads around you. In 2018, those 70/118 caps (Quade) and 10+ year/multi-code professionalism is gone, and so all the responsibility for organizing that backline sits on inexperienced shoulders. If you’ve played 12 outside Quade and inside Hunt, and suddenly you’re at 10 inside Samu and Toua, you’re going to notice it!
          But I think that far too many points in these discussions (this little one and other ones in the article and the comments) are related to the coach, the coach’s inexperience, the coach’s inflexibility.
          And it’s far too familiar a tale. DP’s been burned by Woody (you pointed out 2015). It’s hard to find many (any?! Almost that bad…) decent coaches at senior levels in Australia these days…
          So if DP requires a mentor and coach, then DP’s not in a good spot. The best mentor he could have isn’t allowed near the team (so he’s playing at Souths – how much better if DP and QC were still operating together, as Lynagh learned outside Ella?), and the head coach is a forward who believes in the grind and winning the contact (with no emphasis on other skills, like passing, where his successors in the ABs and his rival coaches like Gibson at the Tahs have a major emphasis on passing skills and winning the contact by hitting holes, rather than hitting opponents). The backs coaches, I don’t know much about Carozza (but he was a winger – not a position noted for analysis? I hope my concerns are misplaced!), and McGahan’s record is similar to Woody’s… :-(

        • GO THE Q REDS

          See once again you are spot on the money bro. Throughout Quades career, whenever he’s behind an at worst equal pack he really really shines. He has attacking vision, he knows where all his options are before he gets the ball. He makes everyone around him look better. ….this year it’s Tela Tala…..now a fringe Red after an amazing South’s season.. ..beside QUADE. I just finished watching South’s at training tonight and it’s an awesome thing to watch QUADE running an attack. As for defense, my favorite argument is the actual fox sports stats that show QUADE is no worse than your average international 10 in the tackle zone. Damien McKenzie has horrendous defence stats but his attack ability has him an AB shoe in.

        • RobC

          There’s a reason that DP has been in the Reds outfit since he was he 19 (groomed as a 10) and Teti Tela debuted a couple weeks ago at the age of 27

          Teti is also a 5/8. He as 5/8 when Souths won the hospital cup in 2015. Naturally he moved one out when the boss joined the team. Teti is good. He’s always been good. But as you mentioned he’s in the fringe.

          I do agree QC in his post 2013 injury has been focused more about running team than being the main threat. And it’s been great. But now he’s 30 and he gets injured every year since 2013 without fail. So even if he gets back into the team you need a really good backup

          Just like Tela for QC for the pies.

        • GO THE Q REDS

          And yet they didn’t use Teti at 10 when QUADE was injured. …he stayed outside where he’s showing more promise and is more dangerous and that’s got him in the Reds door.

        • RobC

          Actually, TT played 10 three times: rounds 11, 12, 13. QC took over round 14. Jason Hof played flyhalf for 3 earlier rounds

        • GO THE Q REDS

          3games isn’t what youd call entrenched then surely. Almost certain he’s being “groomed” as a late blooming 12. As you’d expect if a possible REDS career is on the cards.

        • RobC

          Cheers Who? GAGR too good to ignore eh? :D

          About the natural position, actually thats my point. That 10 his natural position

          Re running threat, heres where I respectfully disagree. With the modern interpretation, the modern 10 MUST be a genuine triple threat. The exception may be in cases like QC where his experience makes up for his slower pace

          Yes QC should the Reds 10. DP should be next. Then after him is someone else.

          Back to last year. QC ran the show because that’s his position. Much of it passing and calling the game. At the same time Duncan was also positioning other players to create opportunities using all the tools. Quite a few games I came away thinking DP did a better job than Quade in this.

          From my observation it doesn’t matter who’s next to DP. He still delivers and creates.

          Coaching. It is a big prob and the primary issue imo. That why I think it’s raised often here.

          Carozza, one of the many people BT brought with him from reds u20 and Qld Country, is out has gone back to Reds academy.

        • GO THE Q REDS

          Yep you make more sense in this paragraph then all the Wallaby play making options and Reds positional choices all year.

        • GO THE Q REDS

          I’m with you. Duncan looks like a 12. People only started thinking of him as a 10 when all of a sudden QUADE was out of the Reds and Wallabies picture, hence cover was needed faster then usual.

        • RobC

          Nope. His original position was 10. Before he moved back to Rugby he was also 5/8 for the Broncs U20 and won the comp with him in charge

          RG threw him in to run the Reds attack at the age of 19 when QC got injured, totally unprepared. Did badly and totally knocked all confidence in him after a solitary game.

          Since then he’s been playing as the second playmaker for Aus U20 , NRC and after a few great games for the Eagles back to the Reds in 2016

          That is why people started thinking of him as a 12.

        • GO THE Q REDS

          Yes but no-one serious has watched him and instantly seen him as a 10 at the Reds, 12 yes. And he looks good and comfortable there. There was a loong list of young guys thrust into the 10 position in lots of teams this year and they looked more natural there. Even Hodge at the Rebels looked better and he hasn’t played 10 since what.. high school or something.

  • Kiwi rugby lover

    Really enjoyed reading that team. Thanks for the effort and for sharing it with us.
    I actually think BT is setting in place a culture that can, if picked up on, really go somewhere. I think that his inexperience has caused some issues and I’m not sure that having McGahan in the team is very smart, he’s a proven failure so not sure what he brings.
    Personally I think bringing Izzy into the team without finding a good 10 & 12 is a huge mistake. I’m also not sure he will add to the culture BT is developing.
    No1 for me is sorting out the failure of the board and management and fixing the abortion that is currently there and is bringing the franchise down

    • SuckerForRed

      Here KRL, allow me to fix your post for you –

      “Personally I think bringing Izzy into the team is a huge mistake.”


      • Kiwi rugby lover

        Yeah some truth in that too mate


      Aside from the money side of it I see ZERO issue bringing in an absolute timeless, world class fullback in Folou. Reds 12 is perfectly fine in Duncan if just left alone to develop. Biggest issue is Folou doing his homework and making sure he’s not ending his career by stepping in front of the Thorn bus. As it is he’s suffered at the Tahs with what I describe an extremely stale Foley running their attack. It won’t be worse at the Reds. Especially seeing as Stewart will no doubt spend most of his year buried in a ruck trying to over impress instead of playing the play maker role.

      • SuckerForRed

        Yeah……. Nah……. I actually don’t agree that Folau is a “world class” fullback. I prefer a complete fullback rather than one that is really good in the air and that the referees appear to have been worded up to keep an eye on. And yes that is an entirely different debate. If we are on the hunt for a fullback I would prefer to see us get Tom Banks back, or go after DHP, or if things are that bad, forgive KH. But that is my personal opinion.

        As to Stewart – His schoolboy years of playing flanker is still in the muscle memory. In some ways that is good because he does not shirk the hard work in defence or even in attack if he is the first on the scene after a break. But this does mean that his game management suffers. I think that he is lacking a good mentor to develop the skills that he has. Hopefully the week he has spent in the Wallaby camp might do some good. My worry is that he has been chucked in the deep end with a concrete weight and will not get the assistance he will need to be able to swim out of trouble. Who the mentor should be is open to debate and conjecture.

        • GO THE Q REDS

          I just can’t help but remember what all the great, even good 10s where doing at Stewart’s age. Setting the world on Fire. They had to be coached to reign it in a bit. A player who needs to be coached how to be good or even to do his particular job, may be more trouble then they end up paying out. Now if Stewarts cameos this year have been effected by a coach that tells him to man up and smash any an everyone, then his career is in for a shocking stall.

  • disqus_NMX

    Amongst all the QC drama, I missed the story about what Nick Frisby and Marcus Vanzati did to have BT decide not to consider them for the squad? Anyone can fill me in?

    • SuckerForRed

      I think with Frisby it was mainly just that BT felt that his other options at scrum-half were better, i.e. Tuttle, Sorovi & McDermett then brought in Lucas for experience. There may have been a bit of an attitude issue as well but honestly not sure. But then Tuttle seemed to be put on the outter which still confuses me…..

      • Gallagher

        Which is completely understandable for a coach to do, as neither of them where proven current performing legends of the game so makes sense to slide them out and try someone else if he so deems to get an instant improvement.

        • GO THE Q REDS

          Although Frisby became a wallaby like less than a year before. .. .must have lost alot of talent pretty fast to get dumped the way he did.

        • SuckerForRed

          Some would argue that he should not have become a Wallaby…….

        • GO THE Q REDS

          won’t argue that but if he’s good enough to at least mix it with Wallabies….. surely he makes the cut at a Struggling Reds squad. But they weren’t transparent with the sacking so all we can do is be critical IMHO….

        • SuckerForRed

          To me the Frisby decision was one of the least perplexing, other than the timing with regards to the squad already being announced. There were plenty of other options for scrum half in the squad, most of which I personally think were/are better.

        • RobC

          Frizz was awesome in the old ruck interpretation which encouraged disruption and generally pro defence. Where the 9 can also be a 9.5

          Since the pro attack ruling regime got serious it’s all about speeeeeeed. Ball off the deck. Long accurate passes.

          I hope the Friz will adjust (like Sanchez did) cos he plays great footie and has a cool laid back approach to Rugby – and everything – which beguiles his quick wit and sharp skills

        • GO THE Q REDS

          But then you have players throwing that argument out the window, like Phipps. ..a know slug with an inaccurate long ball. And he’s jumped back up the pecking order with that same above average skill set this year.

        • RobC

          Dont confuse his notorious erratic passing with the speed off the ruck base. Phipps has always been all about fast pill. Its how the Tahs won 2014.

          But his inaccurate passing got really bad, which is the reason Sanchez took over as the #1 scrummie

          You might notice Phipps long pass as markedly improved this year. Nevertheless he was challenged by Gordon in NSW, in some cases overtaken

          The one team, who has a 9 who is a bit slow is the Lions. Cronje does crab a bit, but still feeds the pill faster than the Friz.

      • disqus_NMX

        Thanks SFR. And who is Marcus Vanzati? And why is he also mentioned in the article as being excommunicated?

        • SuckerForRed

          Marcus is a Sweedish born Prop. Went to School in Toowoomba. Is currently playing for the Force. Was in the Reds set up for two years maybe, certainly played NRC for 2 years with Brisbane city. I can’t remember if he was off contract at the end of last year or was “let go”. From my perstective – not a bad player but certainly not at the level of the others in the squad. Could he get there? I guess that depend on training & coaching as he is “only” 24ish. He also played for Souths in Premier rugby. Is there a pattern forming?

        • disqus_NMX

          Thanks, appreciated!

        • RugbyReg

          Frisby and Vanzatti, like Quade, were both named in the Reds squad for 2018 back in November last year (http://www.redsrugby.com.au/News/NewsArticles/tabid/581/ArticleID/18086/St-George-Queensland-Reds-squad-and-coaching-staff-confirmed-for-2018-Vodafone-Super-Rugby-season.aspx)

          Less than a week later (as reported here by Sully) it was revealed that QC along with Frisby and Markus had been told they wouldn’t be training with the Reds squad. (http://www.greenandgoldrugby.com/the-qru-brad-thorn-quade-cooper-thing-wtf/)

          Now Markus doesn’t have the profile of the other two and neither he nor Nick is as ‘beloved’ (?) as Quade but we never got an explanation on the decision. One that was particularly odd given the hoopla made about the squad announcement less than 1 week prior.

          It did not endear Brad nor the QRU with the fans which they should have prioritised with an impending new season.

        • disqus_NMX

          Thanks Reg, much appreciate the explanation!

          What a communication debacle!

        • SuckerForRed

          Thanks Reg. As I said I couldn’t remember the circumstances with Markus.

      • John R

        I remember watching the John Eales Medal a couple of years back, and Sean McMahon gave a joint interview with Nick Frisby. Frisby was a good 4-5 sheets to the wind, and it was a funny chat, but the interviewer went on to congratulate Nick on making his debut that year, and he goes ‘oh yeah, wow like a full 5 minutes of game time in 3 caps’.

        Like I said, he was sauced up, but I immediately got the impression that the guy didn’t have the right attitude hey. Subsequent events seem to back this up sadly.

  • disqus_NMX

    Great article, thanks peeps!

    Sully sums up the Reds fortunes for me “Brad Thorn is toxic, inflexible and unforgiving… This is not culture.”

    The greatest irony is that Christianity preaches forgiveness. Maybe Thorn should turn to his bible for a bit of advice. A little bit of What Would Jesus Do?!

    • Old_Laurentian

      I’m sure Thorne is praying they don’t introduce a ‘no d*ckheads’ policy or he would be out of a job tomorrow.

  • Old_Laurentian

    Thanks for a brilliant and thoughtful article. There is a can of worms here that needs some voices to be heard.


    SEASON LOW POINT: Getting torn apart after every bye week/season break (Brumbies, Sunwolves, Blues). It shows a lack of motivation to get back into it, which could be a coaching issue and needs to be looked at.

    SEASON HIGH POINT: That first half against the Lions. 4 tries to the good guys and kept the top-of-the-table team scoreless. Hanging on to get the win was a bonus.

    PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Taniela Tupou. I could watch him scrummage all day long.

    ROOKIE OF THE YEAR: Jordan Petaia. He has looked like he belongs since minute one.

    WHAT DO YOU WANT TO SEE MORE OF IN 2019: More scrum dominance please.

    WHAT NEEDS TO BE FIXED NEXT YEAR: Stubborn coaching selections. It took Thorn way too long to move on from Lucas/Lance as the playmaking options and the attack suffered for it.

  • BigNickHartman

    To Quade or Not To Quade

  • Henry Barber

    As a kiwi, Hurricanes and All Blacks fan, I’m erring on the side of Big Brad being a problem He needs to put his own performance under the microscope. The whole god bothering thing is a huge issue I’d love to know how comfortable the non believers (Quade ) are and how much Brad favours the fellow believers. I look at the proselytising by the Fijians at the 7’s, and wonder how many people (other than me) that all that god bothering irritates. Brad is a good man and I think he can be a excellent coach.
    A top coach has to unite the team and you can’t do that if your faith prevents your team from being comfortable.

Queensland Reds

The original prop in a prop's body, but thankfully I have the rugby mind of a prop as well.

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