Done deal: Reds show faith in Thorn
A new contract for Brad Thorn to remain as Queensland Reds coach is a done deal with the former dual international signing an extension for 2020.
It is a positive end to months of discussions with Queensland Rugby Union bosses who value the stability, standards and direction he has given a young Reds squad.
Thorn told The Courier-Mail early in the season that he saw his work at the Reds as unfinished business.
His modest 39 per cent winning rate (nine-from-23) reflects that but Thorn was adamant: "We've done some hard yards and we'll see the benefits this year and going forward."
Thorn will get the chance he craves to see it through to the next stage with a one-year extension which will extend his time at Ballymore as head coach to three years.
"It's an honour to coach Queensland. The club is headed in a good direction and I want to continue being a part of that," Thorn said.
"We've got a good group of humble and hard-working men. We're all here to support one another and put in for each other. We have an established coaching group here now too, with Jim McKay, Peter Ryan, Cameron Lillicrap (scrum coach/physiotherapist), Dave Alred (Kicking Coach) and Brynley Abad (Strength and Conditioning head coach) all on board.
"Our focus remains on growing our game and improving as a group every week. There'll be obstacles in front of us, but we've established a good Rugby program and will build on it moving forward."
The QRU has always wanted alignment with the full Reds' coaching team even though one year is less than a two-year statement.
Thorn's deal is just for 2020 and syncs his immediate tenure to that of assistants Jim McKay (attack) and Peter Ryan (defence).
Too often the revolving door of head coaches over the past 15 seasons has meant assistant coaches on contracts have been unwanted by new bosses when they move in to Ballymore.
In recent months, neither QRU chief executive David Hanham or chairman Jeff Miller have been jittery about the lack of wins on Thorn's coaching CV.
Miller has stressed that Thorn is a big part of the "stability and standard-setting for the Reds."
QRU boss David Hanham said: "We remain focused on our medium and long-term coaching strategies that are aimed at creating a strong Rugby program at Ballymore.
"Brad and his coaching team emphasise the importance of leadership, hard work and humility to the squad each day and we continue to be confident we will reap the rewards of this approach as this squad gains more Super Rugby experience."
"One of the big things needed by Queensland rugby is consistency over a number of seasons and Brad has shown the strong attributes he brings," Miller said.
Thorn's Reds have won matches in Buenos Aires and Tokyo over the past two seasons to show they can conquer foreign settings.
Finding a way to beat the Bulls at their high-altitude stronghold at Loftus Verfeld in Pretoria on Sunday morning (Qld time) will be tougher again.
Stepping up physically against another big South African pack is where the battle will start.
Thorn's coaching record includes voids against Kiwi rivals (0-from-five) and NSW (0-from-three) yet it stands up where you most expect it to.
It is perhaps no coincidence that Thorn's men have their best winning rate (three-from-four) against direct, physical, less scheming South African opponents who demand an up-front edge and tough tackling to beat them.
It's just as Thorn played.