Andrew McCullough - Front-Row Seat - PlayersVoice
Andrew McCullough - Front-Row Seat - PlayersVoice

Front-Row Seat

Episode Four: Brad Thorn

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Front-Row Seat

Episode Four: Brad Thorn

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Andrew McCullough sits down for a coffee with Queensland Reds coach Brad Thorn on this episode of Front-Row Seat. Thorn talks about playing Aussie Rules with Michael Voss, the era of no side-steps in the NRL, winning a Rugby World Cup and the dramas of coaching.

 

0:33: I guess I’ve jumped in the deep end pretty quickly. It’s probably what I’m used to doing. Going into league quite young at the Broncos, I started first grade as a 19-year-old …

 

2:04: The standard is excellence. That’s what I strive for. But you never attain it … The challenge is that as a player I could just do that on my own …

 

3:20: I really don’t like having those tough chats but every week I’m finding that I have to have chats with players … Because I’ve been a player for so long I know what it’s like to be dropped. It sucks …

 

4:23: For someone that doesn’t like drama, this isn’t easy for me. I just like putting my head down and working hard …

 

4:51: Wayne Bennett, one quarter of my life was coached by him. Robbie Deans and all these different coaches … I guess I look like a bit of a big boof-head. But I did listen, I did learn, I did watch …

 

6:22: [Moving to Australia] was tough. My Mum told me it took me three or four months before I started feeling comfortable over here. It’s just so different …

 

8:20: I don’t know if I’d even heard of league. Was this rugby? We’d been doing that for 100 years. That’s what we do in New Zealand …  

 

9:07: I came over here and went to a state school – we were a working-class family. For two years, Mum and Dad were trying to get established in Australia, so no sport on the weekends. I just played school and it was AFL, which was even crazier, I didn’t know what was going on … I got to state level and played with Michael Voss …

 

11:27: I just feel like I was born to play footy … When I played footy, I wasn’t shy. This is my house, this is what I do …

 

13:21: At a younger age I was lacking confidence. I was a big kid, I was six-foot at 13. I could run a ball, I could tackle but if I went to a representative carnival I’d often sit back and maybe be overawed by it …

 

13:50: I got to 16 and my old man had had enough. He got me running in the state forest out at Albany Creek … Stuff changed for me in the forest …  

 

15:34: I was about to go down to the Bulldogs … I used to like them, I liked how tough they were … Penrith rang me at school, I’m not sure if they were supposed to do that …

 

17:20: I was nervous. There was Wayne Bennett, he was back in his hey-day then. It was the 90s, it wasn’t so PC like it is today. It was a different era …

 

18:50: There was a pecking order. It’s not like these days where it’s, ‘let’s help a guy out’. You just had to find a way …

 

20:12: It was the era of no side-steps back then too … it was a real courage game. Think of Paul Harragon and Mark Carrol, straight running. The Polynesian influence brought a lot of light footwork …

 

21:05: You had that first era (at the Broncos), when you’re talking about the 70s, 80s, 90s. It was loose. I’ll just leave it at that … the All Blacks culture was nothing like it …

 

22:00: You’ve got to understand that New Zealand is a different culture as well. It was a lot more serious over there in New Zealand. The Broncos was like lunchtime at school playing touch footy …

 

24:11: I was 36 years of age, we’d won the World Cup. I still felt good, I wanted to do some other stuff and have some fun … Japan was right out there. We lived in the South. Tokyo is more westernised and the South is real traditional. There’s no English anywhere. I looked like a freak walking around there …

 

26:34: The World Cup, winning that was, for me, the Grand Final of Grand Finals. I felt like all the other Grand Finals before that had prepped me for that. We hadn’t won it in 24 years …

 

27:47: Union guys love their league. They watch it and support it and always have an Origin team. With the All Blacks, we’d all watch Origin together …

 

28:32: Whenever I went back or forth sometimes I’d hear players who’d go across and sometimes I felt they’d slag off the code they’d come from. For me, I just think they’re two great games …

 

29:17: These days with all the Polynesians and a lot of Christians, everyone seems pretty comfortable and everyone has their own thing … Back in the 90s it was highly uncomfortable …

 

30:04: Talking to Jason Stevens really impacted me. Probably the key thing was, I knew I was a loose cannon. I said to him, when I change one day, then I’ll be a Christian. I don’t want to be a hypocrite. He said, “God, Jesus Christ has to change your heart. It’s not in your own strength” …

 

31:00: There were some things that weren’t so nice for me, looking back, for a guy that just wanted to fit in and do my thing …

 

Andrew McCullough is entering his 11th season with the Brisbane Broncos … and his first as a podcast host. Since suffering a season-ending ACL injury last year, McCullough has been reading books on sports psychology and leadership. His aim is to continue that learning process via the Front-Row Seat podcast, where he will sit down with some of the leading athletes in Australian sport to find out what makes them tick.

 

 

 

 

 

          

 

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