Super Rugby: Queensland Reds, Brad Thorn, Sam Cordingley, Wallabies, Crusaders, coffee meeting

To pinpoint the moment where the Queensland Reds’ re-emergence as a rugby powerhouse began, you’ve got to go back to early 2015.

It was over a coffee in March of that year where former Wallaby Sam Cordingley met Brad Thorn in the Brisbane suburb of Aspley, where the giant forward went to school.

The Reds were keen to recruit the World Cup-winning All Black, who won NRL premierships with the Broncos and Origins with Queensland, but couldn’t sign him given they already had their quota of internationals on their list.

But a question from Cordingley, who had only just started as general manager of the Reds, got the ball rolling about what life looked like for arguably the greatest dual international of all time.

“We had a conversation around what does life look like after rugby,” Cordingley tells “He was considering going back to Leicester, but we kept in touch around what he wanted to do post rugby.

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Rebels vs Brumbies Tips, Odds and Betting – Super Rugby Australia 2021

AAMI Park will play host to Sunday”s
Round 9 Super Rugby game between Rebels and
Brumbies. The game kicks off at 2:00 pm with Brumbies heading into the game as favourites with the bookmakers. Continue reading for our in-depth preview of the Rebels vs.
game and give you our free tips and bets.

When: Sunday April 18, 2021 at 2:00 pm

Where: AAMI Park

Bet 💰: Bet On This Match

Rebels vs Brumbies Odds

Rebels vs Brumbies Preview

Both teams enter this game coming off tight losses although the stories of their seasons are very different.

After going down to the Reds in a gripping contest in Brisbane last week, the Brumbies will finish second and host the Preliminary Final against either the Rebels or Force.

Things are not lining up well for the home side here with star man Reece Hodge out for the next 10 weeks with a knee injury suffered attempting the winning drop goal in Perth last week.

In this fixture last year the Rebels stunned the Brumbies with a 30-12 win but with the visitors out to rebound from last week’s loss, I’ll back them to get home in a close contest.

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Rebels vs Brumbies Tip

We’re tipping Brumbies to win at $1.43 odds.

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Rugby Australia takes the pragmatic approach to Super expansion

Last year, there was an almighty scuffle when New Zealand Rugby sought to establish, and effectively run, a trans-Tasman/Pacific rugby competition. NZ Rugby said that in its preferred model one, two, or three Australian sides would have to go.

For Rugby Australia, newly re-wedded to the five team concept, this was almost an existential threat, as it would kill off the national growth of the game. In either the greatest bluff of the past decade, or a sign of genuine exasperation, the Herald understands Rugby Australia presented NZ Rugby with a six-team Australian competition – including the Fiji Drua – that it would start up rather than cut the Force or the Rebels.
NZ Rugby effectively blinked, and at that stage Rugby Australia was happy. It felt that it had secured its five teams and was looking forward to a 10-team trans-Tasman competition.

It was only after that stage did NZ Rugby come back to Rugby Australia with its plans to add the two Pasifika teams, which RA agreed to (with oversight conditions) as part of progress towards a Super Rugby commission that would eventually run the new competition.

The Herald understands the introduction of that commission remains firmly on RA’s agenda, even though the time frame is very tight for it to be set up in time for the 2022 season.

That series of events explains why, outwardly at least, NZ Rugby has been ‘excluding’ RA from the Pasifika process. It’s true that the Kiwis have been running the show, and perhaps RA would have liked more say into the criteria for the new teams, but the business plans of Moana Pasifika and Fiian Drua have been shared across the ditch.

The whole process also reflects the different political landscapes in both countries. In short, the Australian Super Rugby franchises probably carry more clout than their Kiwi counterparts. For example, the Kiwi Super Rugby sides don’t get a vote on the Silver Lake/NZ Rugby private equity proposal. Instead, the 26 provincial unions do. Also, Super Rugby players in New Zealand are NZ Rugby employees. That’s who pays them. Australian Super Rugby franchises probably wish they had more say, but they have more weight than across the ditch.


And, if the Australian Super Rugby sides – running on a smell of an oily rag – were more concerned about their own sustainability than Pasifika expansion, it would be a logical – if unromantic – position, and most likely communicated to RA.

The path for Moana Pasifika and the Fijian Drua still has some hurdles despite this week’s announcement. Both franchises still need millions of dollars. There is still a lingering suspicion – although decreasing – that cold, hard rugby economics could derail the plan in the coming months. In that case, NZ Rugby would wear the blame for it, as it is currently carrying all the risk.

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NRL 2021: Karmichael Hunt to Brisbane Broncos, why former NRL, AFL and rugby star is a changed man

The naysayers will say differently but the Broncos have picked up an ace in the pack in Karmichael Hunt, according to his former rugby teammates.

When Hunt found himself in trouble with the law for the second time during his troubled Reds career, he was frozen out of the Super Rugby side by his former Broncos teammate Brad Thorn.

Thorn, in his first season as head coach, made a statement and cast off high profile trio Hunt, Quade Cooper and, later, James Slipper.

Tellingly, all three Test players found new homes and Slipper, who twice tested positive for cocaine but wasn’t charged, remains a strong part of the Wallabies’ leadership group.

Round 6

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Chiefs vs Crusaders Tips, Odds and Betting – Super Rugby Aotearoa 2021

FMG Stadium Waikato will play host to Saturday”s
Round 8 Super Rugby game between Chiefs and
Crusaders. The game kicks off at 5:05 pm with Crusaders heading into the game as favourites with the bookmakers. Continue reading for our in-depth preview of the Chiefs vs.
game and give you our free tips and bets.

When: Saturday April 17, 2021 at 5:05 pm

Where: FMG Stadium Waikato

Bet 💰: Bet On This Match

Chiefs vs Crusaders Odds

Chiefs vs Crusaders Preview

The Chiefs are flying with three straight victories and have a game in hand on the rest of the competition heading into this weekend.

You have to at least give them an outside chance considering the Crusaders have looked mortal in their previous two outings.

They needed extra time to top the lowly Hurricanes last week after a stunning 21 point home loss to the Highlanders the week before that.

So while you can give the Chiefs an outside chance of springing another upset the Crusaders are the one team you have to give the benefit of the doubt to when it comes to finding form in the back half of the season.

It is very much a pick based on reputation but I’m not going to back against the dynasty until it is proven to be dead and not just a bit below its normal level.

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Chiefs vs Crusaders Tip

We’re tipping Crusaders to win at $1.44 odds.

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Super Rugby: Fijian Drua and Moana Pasifika to join the competition in 2022.

Super Rugby will expand to 12-teams in 2022 and become a trans-Tasman competition again with conditional licences granted to the Fijian Drua and Moana Pasifika to join.

Last month World Rugby pledged a $2.16 million annual package to guide the teams through their first three years in the competition.

Expansion has now been deemed viable and licenses officially granted, news hailed by Rugby Australia as a “new dawn” for rugby in the region.

The process is not yet a fait accompli, with final approval of the business plan needed by June 30.

“Once further conditions around the licences have been met, we look forward to formalising the composition of the teams in what will hopefully prove a new dawn for Rugby in the region,” Rugby Australia CEO Andy Marinos said.

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Questions over Andrew Laming’s link to rugby club that won women’s sport grant

The grant to build a new clubhouse for the Southern Bay Cyclones Rugby Union Club in Redland Bay, Queensland, was part of a controversial government program to promote women’s sport known as the Female Facilities and Water Safety Stream.

“When it was announced the alarm bells went off straight away because the club itself didn’t have any female teams. To my knowledge, it still doesn’t,” Don Brown, a Queensland state Labor MP, told 7.30.

The secretary of the rugby club is James Eaton, whose wife Stephanie works in Dr Laming’s electorate office. 

There is no mention of women’s teams on the club’s website.

Mr Brown wants to know if Dr Laming’s office declared the relationship with Stephanie Eaton prior to the grant being awarded.

“I suppose other clubs in the area that were after female facilities don’t have that inside running, don’t have that direct contact to Andrew Laming,” Mr Brown said.

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Super Rugby AU: Queensland Reds star Jordan Petaia shapes as Wallabies fullback option, France, Tom Wright, Dave Rennie, Israel Folau

He might not have played at fullback under Dave Rennie, but Jordan Petaia shapes a possible solution for the Wallabies in the No.15 jersey in the years to come.

Petaia and Brumbies flyer Tom Wright have both impressed Rennie out wide and the duo are both being considered as possible solutions to fill the void left by Israel Folau.

Even before Folau was sacked by Rugby Australia there was debate about whether he should be played at fullback or the wing, but it’s long been a position the Wallabies haven’t nailed since Chris Latham and Matthew Burke wore the jersey.

Kurtley Beale at times looked like a world beater in the position and was nominated as World Rugby player of the year in 2010 when occupying the role.

But his flaws under the high ball meant he shifted in and out of the role throughout his career.

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Highlanders vs Chiefs Tips, Odds and Betting – Super Rugby Aotearoa 2021

Forsyth Barr Stadium will play host to Saturday”s
Round 7 Super Rugby game between Highlanders and
Chiefs. The game kicks off at 5:05 pm with Highlanders heading into the game as favourites with the bookmakers. Continue reading for our in-depth preview of the Highlanders vs.
game and give you our free tips and bets.

When: Saturday April 10, 2021 at 5:05 pm

Where: Forsyth Barr Stadium

Bet 💰: Bet On This Match

Highlanders vs Chiefs Odds

Highlanders vs Chiefs Preview

After a historically bad start to their Super Rugby Aotearoa campaign, the Chiefs have finally found their footing with a pair of close fought wins over the Hurricanes and Blues.

Most impressive is the fact they have won in very different styles in those games, scoring 35 on the Hurricanes before grinding out a 15-12 win at home against the Blues.

The Highlanders will be full of confidence themselves however, stunning the defending champion Crusaders with a 33-12 win in Christchurch.

In spite of the Highlanders massive win last year and very profitable history of four wins and a draw from the last five head to head meetings, I just can’t shake this feeling the Chiefs are on the way back.

I’ll back the upset and the Highlanders winless streak at home in 2021 to extend to three games.

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Highlanders vs Chiefs Tip

We’re tipping Chiefs to win at $2.34 odds.

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‘I really wanted support’: Vunivalu grateful for Thorn’s backing after rocky start in rugby

“(Thorn) just said this is just a minor setback,” Vunivalu said.

“The only way you can get better is what you can do afterwards. And that’s what I’m trying to do, just keep my head down and try to show on field that I’m better than that.

“It’s really easy coming from him because he’s a player himself. At that time I really wanted support and him talking to me was really good.”

Vunivalu was forced to apologise to his teammates, too.

“It was hard standing in front of them, addressing them,” he said.

“It’s not a good look for me, just being there four weeks and that incident happened.”

Vunivalu is grateful for the opportunity to win back respect on the field and is hoping to return for Queensland in their next clash against the Force on April 23, after a bye.

But the Reds haven’t missed Vunivalu, and proved themselves as the new benchmark of Australian Super Rugby after another comeback win against the Brumbies at Suncorp Stadium on Saturday night.

Vunivalu paid Thorn a big compliment by likening him to Bellamy, his legendary coach at the Storm.

Vunivalu says Brad Thorn is like Craig BellamyCredit:Getty

“Thorny is pretty much like Craig, pretty old school. Winning culture and stuff like that,” he said.

“Just hard work to get into the team.”

Vunivali’s on-field form in the weeks prior to suffering a hamstring injury justified Thorn’s decision to stick by the former Storm star.

Marika Koroibete will be one of the first players picked in Rennie’s team that faces France in July, with Vunivalu in competition for the other wing spot with in-form Brumbies flyers Tom Wright and Andy Muirhead.


Vunivalu hopes to continue his pursuit of a starting jersey when the Reds play their final match of the season against the Force in Perth.

“I’m getting better every week. The more games I play, the better I learn,” he said.

“If I can come back and have one more game before the big dance, that would be good.”

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