Dual rugby international, Brad Thorn has promised tough love for the Queensland Reds in this year’s Super Rugby campaign, and with former Broncos hit-man, Peter Ryan in charge of defence, I have no doubt that will be the case.
For as long as I can remember, league players have chortled at the fitness levels of their rugby counterparts.
It is part of legend how league defector, Wendell Sailor – a winger – lifted heavier weights than the forwards, when he switched to union.
I wonder what would have happened if noted ‘slave driver’, Billy Johnstone had been given a chance with the Reds more than a decade ago.
When I was in camp with the Queensland side at Terrigal, back in 2007, Johnstone told me he would love the challenge of getting the Reds into shape, and he was deadly serious. I think the Queensland and Cowboys’ fitness guru was hinting that I should contact someone at the Reds, to see if it was feasible.
I was a league writer for The Courier-Mail at the time, and our conversation was off the record. I never did follow up on his suggestion.
What a culture shock it would have been for the Reds, having Billy bark at them.
It would have been up there with colorful former Test halfback, Tom Raudonikis helping out with the Gregory Terrace rowing crews, as he did many years ago, at the invitation of noted fitness trainer, Paul Bowes. Tommy’s no holds barred, motivational tactics worked a treat with the private schoolboys, after some initial misgivings.
It seems to me, that whenever junior sign-on time comes, for winter sports, rugby league is always slowest out of the blocks.
In one of my local papers this week – January 23, 2019 – there are 12 advertisements for sign-on days, one from rugby league. The Albany Creek Crushers placed an impressive ad, with the support of their sponsors.
Also in the paper were ads (or articles) around netball (1), soccer (3), hockey (2), tennis (1), Australian rules (2) rugby union (2).
Now, there probably will be a blitz from league clubs in the coming weeks, but it is often first in, best dressed.
One thing I noticed in the photos accompanying the ads/articles, was an absence of what might be termed ‘over sized’ youngsters.
Photo: Billy Johnstone (centre) packs down with Joe Vitanza (left) and Peter Smith at Gold Coast Giants in 1988.