NZ's Thorn happy for Reds - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

NZ's Thorn happy for Reds

Laine Clark 09/07/2011 11:16:05 PM Comments (0)

As someone who watched the Queensland Reds' decline, Brad Thorn could fully appreciate their stirring Super Rugby title win on Saturday night.

Well, as much as anyone who was wearing Crusaders colours possibly could.

Japan-bound Thorn, 36, had his dream of bowing out of Super Rugby a winner crushed when the Reds upset the Crusaders 18-13 at a sold-out Suncorp Stadium.

Yet Thorn couldn't hide his smile.

Growing up in Brisbane, Kiwi-born Thorn watched the Reds star rise to the giddy heights of a Super 10 title in 1995.

After that?

Well, nothing of note happened until Reds captain James Horwill hoisted the Super Rugby title aloft in front of 52,113 delirious fans on Saturday night.

In the meantime Thorn had won NRL premierships for the Brisbane Broncos, run out for the Kangaroos and Queensland in league and donned his beloved All Blacks jersey in the 15-man game.

But all the while it seems the giant forward had kept a keen eye on the Reds.

And as much as it stung that he could not help seven-time champions the Crusaders grab yet another title, Thorn still looked like a contented man.

"I grew up here since I was nine years old - my brother played for GPS (club)," Thorn said.

"And that was when rugby was really strong - Queensland was one of the strongest sides in world rugby.

"It has been a real tough decade for them, and crowds were low, then teams around Australia came along and teams took their depth away.

"So to see Queensland rugby so strong and with big crowds, exciting talent - there is a big part of me that appreciates that."

The Reds had not featured in the Super Rugby finals since 2001.

Their comeback is stirring - but the back story to the Crusaders' plight this season is truly moving.

Indeed Thorn fought back tears on match eve as he spoke of the importance of delivering a title following the Christchurch earthquake in February.

"I am sure they (Christchurch folk) were gunning for us but they can't say we didn't give them our best effort," he said.

"Whether you win or lose, my big thing is that you show respect to your opposition and I have a lot of respect for the Reds and what they did."

The earthquakes ensured the Crusaders plenty of adversity - not to mention 100,000-plus kilometres of travel due to the lack of a home ground.

Asked if they had pride in what they achieved, Thorn said: "Yeah, the best thing is that we haven't complained, we just carried on.

"We strive for excellence at the Crusaders.

"We got close but we weren't quite there."

That also summed up Thorn's 47th minute effort on Saturday night.

Ignoring a four-man overlap, Thorn believed he scored the Crusaders' second try after the break but was denied by the television match official.

"I felt like I got close," he said.

"Did I skim the grass? I don't really know - it didn't get awarded."

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