Voss turns Red in coaching excursion
LONG before Brad Thorn was winning Super Rugby titles and premierships with the Broncos, he was a kid ruckman in Aussie rules tapping the ball to a red-haired whiz named Michael Voss.
Sport has a remarkable way of rekindling friendships and the duo were laughing and trawling through 31-year-old memories like schoolboys again at Ballymore on Wednesday.
Brisbane Lions great Voss was back in his home town to soak up high-performance gems at the Queensland Reds where his old teammate Thorn now runs the show.
As the midfield coach for Port Adelaide, Voss had already lapped up coach Anthony Seibold's access-all-areas pass at the Brisbane Broncos on Tuesday.
"You can't go to the training sessions of other AFL clubs so just being able to watch how other elite footy programs are doing things is really valuable," Voss said.
"I've picked up some gold for sure because, any coach, after an off-season is wondering 'are we up to speed?' with trends and ideas."
Voss and Thorn were teammates in a Queensland under-12s Australian rules side when at primary school in Brisbane in the 1980s.
"I had nothing to worry about with a bloke that big looking after me," Voss said with a laugh.
Added Thorn: "I just kept tapping the ball to the red-haired kid.
"Aussie rules was fun with no knock-ons, kicking and all the running about but I definitely needed more physical contact so I headed off to junior rugby league."
The Reds will rest frontline Wallabies Samu Kerevi, Taniela Tupou, Izack Rodda and Sefa Naivalu from Friday night's trial against the Melbourne Rebels in Ballarat.
The night will be a big chance for impressive young flanker Fraser McReight, new fullback signing Bryce Hegarty and halfback contenders Moses Sorovi and Tate McDermott.
It may be a trial but Thorn is demanding to see sting and cohesion in defence because taskmaster Peter Ryan has been drilling a new system into the players.
"Tackle tech doesn't change overnight but these guys have been to some dark places to improve as much as they possibly can to be better in 'D' in the time so far," Ryan said.
"You'd want to be getting a 10-20 per cent improvement as we go on.
"The mental state of our pre-season army camp at Canungra (with teamwork and trust built under fatigue) directly transfers to footy.
"A lot of the easy, clear one-on-one misses in defence (last year) were because players were trying to solve situations already in dire straits so there's been plenty of work on our system."
Big defensive moments were a feature of last season but conceding 66 tries is a lamentable reflection of how hot-and-cold they ran over 80 minutes.
Up front in Ballarat, giant back-up props Gavin Luka and Feao Fotuaika can show the gains they have made in fitness can be replicated in a football sense.
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