Thorn tempted by Tens wildcard comeback

Queensland Reds coach Brad Thorn says a Brisbane Tens comeback was tempting.
Queensland Reds coach Brad Thorn says a Brisbane Tens comeback was tempting.

Brad Thorn admits he was tempted to pull on the boots as a wildcard for the Queensland Reds at the Brisbane Tens.

But his long-time mentor Robbie Deans reckons the dual-code great can make just as big an impact from the stands as he did as a player.

Thorn might be 43 and immersed in his new Super Rugby coaching role with the Reds but his last professional match wasn't really all that long ago.

The former All Black played two games in the 2016 NRC season for Queensland Country, who he coached to a premiership the following year.

Thorn stretched his career out as long as he possibly could but joked that 10-a-side rugby was a bridge too far.

"Most people would know, it's always very tempting (for me)," Thorn said.

"I don't see this as my format though. If they bring 20-a-side, there's my format."

Retired stars Drew Mitchell (Waratahs), Andrew Walker (Brumbies), Adam Freier (Rebels), Carlos Spencer (Blues), Carl Hayman (Pau) and Pita Alatini (Highlanders) will all feature at Suncorp Stadium as wildcards.

Thorn said he had given his players licence to "unleash" with chip kicks, trick plays and whatever else they deemed necessary to exploit the extra open space.

"If it would be me out there, I know I'd want to try a few things," he said.

"Super Rugby is so serious, all that pre-season, the pressure around the game ... this is a great environment just to crack in.

"I've really encouraged amongst the whole group to improve their skillset and we'll see what we see."

Deans, who coached Thorn for years at the Crusaders, tipped him to be a success in his new role and said he always seemed destined for that future.

"Right from the start, he was learned, he wanted to learn the fundamentals and how to master a circumstance and he showed that the way he mastered set piece," Deans said.

"Blokes that think like that ... most (of them) tend to go on and coach.

"Brad's a competitor, so he'll make a plan, commit and I'd just encourage those he does identify to commit with him because he likes to win."