Thorn’s sharp response ominous for Slipper
THE Reds career of James Slipper may be over if you translate Brad Thorn's firm view that a cocaine stain on Queensland rugby would be letting down rugby kids everywhere.
The forthright coach spoke from the heart as a father of four when saying mums and dads deserved the comfort of zero tolerance as the example set by a peak club.
Just weeks after Thorn was in the trenches with Slipper, as coach and captain, he is still grappling with the shock of the 104-game stalwart's two positive tests for cocaine.
"The situation is gutting," Thorn said.
"Slips has been struggling with some stuff and there is compassion around that and the club will be supporting him with the attention he needs.
"The other side of that is cocaine ... you can't have that."
Reds winger Jordan Petaia is just 18 and the Reds have the youngest average age of any squad in Super Rugby at around 23.
"You're the head coach of the club and I've got all these young guys in here," Thorn said.
"I'm watching my sons play rugby at school and there are all those kids.
"It's a real issue, that, to me.
"There are two sides to it but you can't have cocaine, drug use.
"For me, I don't want to let down those mums and dads and these young guys (at the Reds)."
Slipper's welfare is a priority after he admitted to "not coping" and dealing with depression.
Thorn and Slipper spent time adjusting his training schedule during the off-season when the 86-Test prop was dealing with his mother's cancer fight.
"For me, family comes first and I said don't come in at all if that's what you need," Thorn said.
"I didn't have knowledge of that other stuff (with the drug tests)."
Slipper is under a two-month suspension and will seek extra mental health care.
The veteran prop is off-contract at the end of the year and Thorn is sensitive to not being drawn on the evolving case.
"The club will address that stuff down the track," Thorn said.
Thorn was speaking after the Reds' 18-15 loss to the Highlanders when dumb kicking in general play ruined a major chance to topple the Kiwis.
The Reds kicked the ball 11 times with the scores at 15-all and eight of those from Jono Lance (four) Moses Sorovi (three) and Petaia were rubbish to mediocre.
Meanwhile, rugby's new "nipple-line" law to reduce high tackles will water down the physicality of the game that a perplexed Thorn once played.
World Rugby has admirably tried to do something about the rise in concussions and head injuries yet the method has Thorn and other luminaries shaking their heads.
The experimental law for the World Under-20s Championships in France next month means tackling above the nipple line will be judged as a dangerous tackle.
It should be dubbed the Scaramanga Law for the confusion the old Bond movie villain would have created with his three nipples.
World Rugby cited evidence collected from 1500 elite matches that the risk of injury to both players from a high-contact tackle (when the tackler is upright) is four times greater than a low-contact tackle.
Australia's World Rugby chief medical officer Dr Martin Raftery said the trial was aimed at a technique change to lower tackling "to remove the tackler's head from a high-risk situation".
Thorn is worried rugby is going too far.
"Soon it'll be the belly button ... where's it going to end?" Thorn asked.
"I'm just pleased I'm retired because you could just cut loose in my day.
"If you look at the UFC and MMA or whatever, it just keeps growing because you see two people go to war, physically.
"Often you see them hug with blood dripping down and with so much respect at the end.
"Sure, spear tackling and someone deliberately taking someone's head off ... that definitely needs to be sorted out."
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