Rugby: Brad Thorn's drug stance driven by family connection

The former All Blacks spoke about cocaine issues that hampered the Reds Super Rugby season.
The former All Blacks spoke about cocaine issues that hampered the Reds Super Rugby season. Photo credit: Getty Images

Former All Black and current Reds coach Brad Thorn has spoken out about the challenges he has faced with drugs in sport this season.

Thorn has had a demanding season in his debut stint with the Reds, recording five wins in 15 games.

But several off-field issues have hindered the 2018 campaign, with two players embroiled in drug controversies.

After being arrested, Karmichael Hunt had cocaine posession charges formally dropped, but pleaded guilty to lesser charges. Captain James Slipper twice tested positive for the drug.

As a result, Thorn has taken a hard stance and suspended both players, who are now without a Super Rugby team for the 2019 season.

Fans felt the 43-year-old was harsh on the international duo, but Thorn has revealed why he did so.

The 59-test All Black told that his brother-in-law battled with substance abuse years ago and that provided Thorn with a glimpse into the way drug use can ruin lives.

"When you're talking about cocaine to me, it's a serious issue," Thorn said.

"I don't want [cocaine] to be around this team, this club or the kids around this club.

"I'm a dad - I've got four kids and on my wife's side, one of her siblings had some issues with drugs. It's a tough thing.

"I know they call them party drugs and stuff now, but you can call them whatever you want - they cause issues in people's lives.

Karmichael Hunt.
Karmichael Hunt. Photo credit: Getty Images

"I don't really want to talk about it too much, because I want to respect my wife and her family - my family, I guess.

"It's not great for society, it's talked about in the newspapers, and it's a challenge for society."

Thorn insists taking a hard stance is not about making an example of Hunt and Slipper, - it is about an example to the young players coming through the ranks at the Reds.

"There are lots of young guys coming through, and it's important to me that they have good mentoring from myself or that the club culture is strong," he said.

"As much as I want them to go on to be great players and have great careers, I also want them to be great people and humble.

"So kids have good role models when they see a Reds player - he plays good footy and he’s someone that the way he goes about his stuff shows good qualities.

"We’ve all got our battles, and I’m not saying everyone has to be perfect or anything, but as a dad with four kids of my own, there is the footy side of things and then there is the people side of things.

"I’m hoping that we are working towards building a foundation for a long-term healthy club and rugby in Queensland, and hopefully some success - that's my mindset."