Former All Black Thorn to coach Queensland youth

Former All Black, Crusader and Highlanders lock Brad Thorn has agreed to join the Queensland Rugby Union when he retires from playing rugby at the end of the season.

Thorn is currently playing for Leicester Tigers in England but at the end of the season he will hang up his playing boots and start coaching.

The Rugby World Cup winner played Super Rugby for the Crusaders and the Highlanders and was the first player to win a World Cup, Heineken Cup title and a Super Rugby title.

According to the Courier Mail Thorn has agreed to help coach Queensland Rugby’s emerging forwards.

Meanwhile the Reds have locked in six promising young players for the 2016 season and beyond.

Sef Fa’agase (prop), Michael Gunn (loose forward), Adam Korczyk (loose forward) and Andrew Ready (hooker) have committed to the club for three years, while Sam Talakai (prop) and Jamie-Jerry Taulagi (outside back) have signed for two years.

All six have made their Super Rugby debut for Queensland over the last two seasons and have been identified as future stars of the club.

Korczyk and Ready are the most recent debutants of the group, with the latter coming on as replacement hooker against the Hurricanes last weekend. Korczyk made his debut during the Reds’ two-week tour of South Africa and scored a try in just his second game of Super Rugby against the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein.

Queensland Rugby CEO Jim Carmichael said,”Over the past 18 months we have recognised the need to further strengthen our Queensland Rugby pathways. Of the six signings, four players are direct products of our development pathways.

“Having already announced that James Slipper and Rob Simmons will lead the Reds over the coming years, today’s announcement is a further demonstration of Queensland’s long-term planning for future success.”

Fa’agase, Gunn, Korczyk and Ready all progressed through Queensland Rugby programs before excelling for Brisbane City in the National Rugby Championship in their 2014 title run.

And while Talakai and Taulagi aren’t originally from Queensland, they too came to the Reds through Queensland Rugby’s pathways. New Zealander Taulagi signed as a developing foreign player with the Reds off the back of his performances in Queensland Premier Rugby in 2013 and Talakai was brought up to Brisbane from Sydney to play for Brisbane City in the NRC.

Reds head coach Richard Graham said it was important for Queensland Rugby to continue to build its pathways and recognise those up-and-coming players that had contributed strongly to Queensland.

“The signing of Sef (Fa’agase), Michael (Gunn), Adam (Korczyk) and Andrew (Ready) demonstrates how strongly we value the development of Queensland youngsters through our pathway programs,” he said.

“This season alone all four have made their debuts, along with 11 other players, and their signings will see them continue to develop here at Ballymore. It is a huge show of faith to our Rugby program and their desire to see Queensland Rugby continue to be strong.

“While Sam (Talakai) and JJ (Taulagi) aren’t originally from our development pathways, they came to Ballymore with a strong desire to further develop their talent and we have made clear over the past 18 months we are willing to look outside Queensland where we need to.

“Sam’s introduction through the successful NRC Brisbane City team led to his Elite Development contract. Of his eight Super Rugby caps, he has been our starting tighthead in five of them and through his improving performances in Super Rugby this year he has earned the further upgrade to be a member of the main Reds squad.

“This is the second year of JJ’s original deal. He was outstanding in the NRC for Queensland Country and carried that form into the pre-season trials. Unfortunately a knee injury has ruled him out of most of the 2015 Super season but I feel he has demonstrated some growth and we believe he will contribute strongly over the next two seasons.”

The announcement of the six follows on from recent news the Reds have re-signed captain James Slipper, vice-captain Rob Simmons and scrumhalf Nick Frisby, along with securing the signature of Melbourne Rebels lock Cadeyrn Neville.

Sef Fa’agase
Position: Prop
Height: 185cm
Weight: 117kg
DOB: 03/05/1991
POB: Auckland, New Zealand
Representative honours: ARU National Academy (2012), Reds A (2013-14), Brisbane City NRC (2014)
Super Rugby debut: 2015 v Brumbies, Canberra
Super Rugby caps: 7

Michael Gunn
Position: Loose forward
Height: 189cm
Weight: 96kg
DOB: 16/06/1995
POB: Brisbane, QLD
Representative honours: Queensland Schoolboys (2012), Australian Schoolboys (2012), Reds Under 20s (2014-15), Reds A (2014), Brisbane City NRC (2014)
Super Rugby debut: 2015 v Lions, Brisbane
Super Rugby caps: 1

Adam Korczyk
Position: Loose forward
Height: 192cm
Weight: 102kg
DOB: 14/02/1995
POB: Auckland, New Zealand
Representative honours: Queensland Schoolboys (2012), Australian Schoolboys (2012), Reds A (2014), Brisbane City NRC (2014), Reds Under 20s (2014-15)
Super Rugby debut: 2015 v Bulls, Pretoria
Super Rugby caps: 3

Andrew Ready
Position: Hooker
Height: 180cm
Weight: 107kg
DOB: 11/07/1993
POB: Brisbane, QLD
Representative honours: Queensland Schoolboys (2010), Australia A Schoolboys (2010), Reds A (2013-14), Australian Under 20s (2013), Brisbane City NRC (2014)
Super Rugby debut: 2015 v Hurricanes, Brisbane
Super Rugby caps: 1

Sam Talakai
Position: Prop
Height: 183cm
Weight: 116kg
DOB: 04/09/1991
POB: Sydney, NSW
Representative honours: Waratahs v British and Irish Lions (2013), Brisbane City NRC (2014)
Super Rugby debut: 2015 v Brumbies, Canberra
Super Rugby caps: 8

Jamie-Jerry Taulagi
Position: Prop
Height: 180cm
Weight: 89kg
DOB: 18/06/1993
POB: Auckland, New Zealand
Representative honours: Queensland Country NRC (2014)
Super Rugby debut: 2014 v Western Force, Brisbane
Super Rugby caps: 9

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