New coach, same problems?

CS Knott Roar Rookie

By CS Knott, CS Knott is a Roar Rookie

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6 Have your say

    Let me just say right from the start: I really like Brad Thorn.

    The man has a professional title haul without equal across two rugby codes. I still have his trading card from his days at the Broncos.

    I watched with awe and no small amount of jealousy as he made his name with the All Blacks, often at the expense of teams in green and gold. Heck, when he switched to play for the Highlanders in Super Rugby they even became my ‘favourite Kiwi side’ (if such a thing actually exists).

    So in many ways I could not be more pleased by Thorn’s appointment to the head coaching position at the Queensland Reds. He is passionate about the game and espouses a philosophy of hard work and defensive toughness. He seems not only to be well-liked by players but also able to foster an environment of competency and teamwork. These appear to be good indicators of his potential success at the Reds, although his only experience thus far has been coaching under-20s and NRC sides.

    That last point gives me some pause for thought, though not necessarily about Thorn himself. Instead, I fear that this appointment is yet another symptom of broken management at the Reds.

    Recall the Richard Graham debacle. A poor run of results from 2013 to 2015 sees the Reds apparatus conduct an in-depth high-performance review of the franchise. The result? A ‘worldwide search’ for a new head coach that delivered Richard Graham.

    Not for long, though. Two rounds into 2016 he was sacked, finishing in Super Rugby with an unenviable record of nine wins from 34 matches at the Reds following seven from 24 at the Force.

    Matt O’Connor and Nick Stiles, both Reds assistants up until that point, were made interim replacements. Yet another coaching manhunt saw the franchise again opt to stick with what they knew, appointing Stiles as solo head coach while O’Connor was let go.

    That whole episode would have been farcical enough, but behind it all more consequences of the Reds’ mismanagement were brewing.

    That high-performance review had also seen former Wallabies coach John Connolly axed six weeks into his consulting contract. Understandably he was unimpressed by this. The resulting litigation saga ended only a month ago, with the courts ordering the Reds to pay Connolly $150,000 in compensation.

    It might all have been worth it had fortunes improved on the field. Alas, another disappointing year from a team packed with stars was all we got. Stiles wasn’t working out, so it was time for another change. Another short-term coach axed, another search for someone to turn it all around.

    This is the weirdness of the Reds setup. Time and time again the fans and then the organisation realised change was needed, but every time the franchise has opted not for change or new blood but for an insider. And not only that, their candidates have boasted terrible success rates and/or little to no top-level coaching experience. How this approach leads to better things is beyond me.

    Brad Thorn is no slouch – granted, he has not been with the Reds for long – but he is nonetheless an internal candidate and one with no track record of top-level coaching behind him.

    In a perfect world he would have been afforded another few seasons as an assistant to a successful experienced coach brought in from outside the franchise. He could have honed his coaching craft and confidence before stepping equipped into the head coaching role.

    It may be that Thorn has the skill and substance to be a fantastically successful head coach at the Reds. My fear is that he, along with the talented squad and Queensland fans, will be burned by another case of mismanagement.

    But I sincerely hope not. With some luck and some Brad Thorn brawn at the helm, this Reds side may well achieve something of their great potential next season.

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    The Crowd Says (6)

    • Roar Guru

      October 6th 2017 @ 8:08am
      Ralph said | October 6th 2017 @ 8:08am | ! Report

      Maybe no reputable, experienced head coach wanted the job.

      • Roar Rookie

        October 6th 2017 @ 10:32am
        CS Knott said | October 6th 2017 @ 10:32am | ! Report

        That’s certainly possible this time around. But to me that’s an even bigger indictment on the processes prior to this point. I find it hard to believe no one else put their hand up in 2015.

      • October 6th 2017 @ 11:35am
        ethan said | October 6th 2017 @ 11:35am | ! Report

        Head coaching gig of a SR franchise? There are plenty of experienced coaches who would love that job. The only way to get a position of more credibility is international rugby.

        But with having to pay out Graham early, and Connolly, and Stiles, they can’t have had much spare cash to go hunting for an experienced coach. So it really came down to continuing Stiles with the contract he was on, or going with the inexperienced Thorn on the cheap.

        It was when they bungled the Graham re-appointment, and subsequently the Connolly appointment, that they landed themselves in a rough spot. We won’t get an experienced coach at the helm now until Connolly, Stiles, and Thorn, have finished being paid out. Just have to hope Thorn is that diamond in the rough.

        • October 6th 2017 @ 8:31pm
          Rebellion said | October 6th 2017 @ 8:31pm | ! Report

          If Richard Graham had a shred of integrity he would pay back his entire salary from 2013 onwards and beg the fans’ forgiveness.
          No team on earth deserves a virus like Richard Graham…not even the Waratahs

          • October 6th 2017 @ 8:59pm
            Adsa said | October 6th 2017 @ 8:59pm | ! Report

            Nah, I would be over the moon to see Graham weave his magic with the tahs.

    • October 6th 2017 @ 7:42pm
      Jacko said | October 6th 2017 @ 7:42pm | ! Report

      i really dont get it…if Thorn is not a man to trust…to believe in…to base a future around…to improve a culture…to improve fitness and skills…to better the current game plans…to instill confidence in his players…to have earnt respect……then I have no idea who would be….

      Do you understand that there is not one SR coach who has not actually Debuted as a SR coach? Where does he get SR coaching experience without being an SR coach?…Im a Kiwi who lives in Brisbane and I believe his coaching will get me to more Qld home games this year than in previous years because the man has what we NZers call MANA and i have no idea what Aussies call it but he has it in spades…I cannot see anything but a win win for QLD and Aus rugby when you get guys like Brad Thorn involved in the game….

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