An open letter from Brad Thorn to all Queensland Rugby supporters

· Super Rugby - AU
by Reds Media Unit

To all Queenslanders, 

On behalf of the club, our players and staff I would like to thank you for your great support in 2020.

It’s been a year like no other. We’ve travelled around the world. We’ve battled through a global pandemic. We’ve embraced two pre-seasons and we finished it with a Grand Final. 

Our journey to get to last week’s big game started 10 months ago when the whole group – players and staff, travelled around Queensland for our ‘Reds to Regions’ trip in November last year.

As the St.George Queensland Reds this was very important for us as we wanted to reconnect with the state and the Queensland Rugby community.

We travelled far and wide across this great state – from Roma to Rockhampton, Barcaldine to Bundaberg, Chinchilla to Charters Towers and everywhere in between. 

Across those three days, the players and staff were billeted with locals in their communities and went to work on their farms, at schools and rugby clubs – lending them a helping hand and seeing what life is like for people around the state.

We also took our trial games to regional Queensland this year. We usually play our pre-season matches at Ballymore, but we wanted to visit your local communities and bring our game to you. 

We flew to Gladstone and met the rugby community in Central Queensland, before driving west to Dalby the following week and were treated to some great hospitality in both areas.

As busy as it was, we knew this was a big thing for rugby people in Queensland before the Super Rugby got underway.

The first three weeks we were away from home. We literally circumnavigated the globe – from Canberra, to Johannesburg and then to Buenos Aires in Argentina. We flew to three continents in three weeks and embraced the challenging start.

When we finally played our first home game in front of our Queensland fans at Suncorp Stadium in Round 4, we produced our biggest victory in Super Rugby history with a strong win over the Sunwolves.

We collected five bonus points in seven matches that included a spirited performance in Christchurch against the Crusaders, before Super Rugby was suspended due to COVID-19.

Like most Australians, we were forced into isolation, as all players and staff worked from home. 

We were eventually allowed back to Ballymore to train in small groups for a period of time.

We brought players in from the Queensland pathway and club rugby to train with us, who have since thrived in our program this year. 

As a united group we embraced and adapted to the challenges of COVID pay-cuts, player departures and a second pre-season in the same year. 

Rugby finally resumed with a domestic competition which we started by beating New South Wales for the first time in seven years to reclaim the Bob Templeton Cup. 

We set out to make Suncorp Stadium our fortress again and with your support in the stands we did just that. 

We didn’t lose a game at home during the entire Super Rugby AU tournament that included hosting a Qualifying Final for the first time in eight years.

A week later we played in our first Grand Final since 2011. We were disappointed we didn’t get the result. We came close but fell short in a tough contest in Canberra.

Just like they’ve showed all year, our guys played with plenty of ticker. Their resilience and determination to get back in the game was something special. 

This Queensland team never gives up. It’s something I’m proud of. It’s what being a Queenslander is all about. 

As a group, we want to make you proud of Queensland Rugby. 

We want to play a brand of rugby that is enjoyable and entertaining for the fans and hopefully you felt and saw that this year.

Rugby is a great game. It’s a code for all shapes and sizes, boys and girls, all with different qualities and skill sets. 

We want to see rugby flourishing at all levels; in the country and along the coast, in the schools and at local clubs. 

We want the state of Queensland, and also all of Australia to embrace rugby and hopefully our performances have gone some way in helping achieve this.

I couldn’t do what I do without a wonderful support team around me. We’re a big family here at the St.George Queensland Reds and we all have each other’s back. 

Thank you to our coaches and team staff for the sacrifices made to keep this group playing rugby in 2020.   

Thank you to our captain Liam Wright for your exceptional leadership. He took over from Samu Kerevi and proved an excellent role model, both on-and-off the field. He was well supported by fellow leaders Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, Bryce Hegarty and Angus Scott-Young.

Thank you to our CEO David Hanham and the QRU Board. 

Thanks to our many partners for sticking with us during this tough year. 

Thank you to the QRU admin staff in each of the different departments for your hard work and contribution to this group. 

A big thank you also to our loyal members for your ongoing support for us in 2020.

It’s been a tough slog – not only this year, but the past three years I’ve been involved here.

I remember what I said when I turned up for my first press conference at Ballymore. A journalist asked what I’m about as a coach, and I said care. The real word is love, but I use care because it’s a more comfortable word for the guys.

I wanted them to care about their mate. Care about the cause and care about who they represent – the state, the maroon jersey and what it means to Queenslanders.

Three years later, I feel this is clear for all to see. 

We care about our Queensland supporters. We notice you guys in the crowd. We notice you in the street wearing your maroon jersey. We notice you on our social media platforms. We couldn’t do what we do without your support.

This year we’ve reconnected with the state and feel you believe and trust in us again.

What you’ve seen this year is only the beginning and we can’t wait to make you proud in 2021. We are Queensland, and we are looking forward to the challenge ahead. 

Thanks for your support and God bless,