Dual international Brad Thorn has signed a three-year coaching deal with the Queensland Reds but will not be considered as a replacement for embattled head coach Richard Graham.
Heading a raft of changes to the last-placed Super Rugby outfit’s coaching structure, the former All Blacks lock will join the club next season as a forwards development coach.
Due to his “unique skill set and successful playing history”, the Reds say Thorn’s scope will be much broader and they’ll lean on his advice in other areas.
But the Reds have ruled out Thorn as an option to replace Graham, who faces the sack unless the team shows dramatic improvement across their last five games.
Thorn wants to move into senior coaching and while his incredible achievements and remarkable longevity across two codes suggests he is a viable long-term option, Queensland will not consider him for the top job until he has more experience under his belt.
The 40-year-old is still playing professional rugby with English side Leicester Tigers but will retire at the end of the season to return to Brisbane, where he began his career in the NRL with the Broncos.
“I am very excited about becoming involved with the Reds and am grateful for the chance to continue my involvement in rugby,” said Thorn, who also represented the Kangaroos and Queensland at State of Origin level.
“I’m looking forward to the opportunity of working with the boys and sharing what I have learnt over the years.
“My family and I are excited about moving back to Brisbane and starting this next chapter in our lives.”
Thorn’s appointment follows that of former Wallabies coach John Connolly, who will serve as a coaching consultant to Graham for the rest of the season.
In another coup, former Reds conditioning coach Damien Marsh – a key pillar of Queensland’s 2011 Super Rugby championship campaign – will return to the franchise next year.
Marsh has spent the past two seasons with the ACT Brumbies.
Queensland has also re-signed forwards coach Nick Stiles for a further three years as a senior assistant.
“As I have said previously, we have been conducting a review of our high performance area for some time, which is continuing, in order to deliver our short and long-term outcomes,” Queensland Rugby Union chief executive Jim Carmichael said.
“We’ve identified areas that require strengthening to provide the team with the appropriate support and structures moving forward.”
However, the Reds are resigned to losing attack coach Steve Meehan, who has reportedly signed a two-year deal to join the staff of European giants Toulon.