Former All Blacks lock and head coach of the 2018 Reds, Brad Thorn may have surprised a few Kiwi rugby disciples when he kicked off his Super Rugby preseason with a military camp.
Bitter Springbok supporters are in the habit of hailing Kiwi coaches as progressive, but Thorn, the successor to former Reds coach Nick Stiles, separated the men from the boys with something closer to the infamous Kamp Staaldraad than a weekend of scented candles at the health spa.
Arguably the closest the modern All Blacks have ever got to an enforcer of Bakkies Botha’s uncompromising demeanour, Thorn dragged his 39-man Reds squad to Enoggera Army Barracks, north of Brisbane.
According to FoxSports Australia, the players “traded footy shorts, rugby balls and tackle bags for fatigues, stooped runs under barbed wire, ropes and wall climbs” and “food was rationed”.
“It was an infantry-themed resilience activity to test their physical and mental toughness and take the players out of their comfort zone so they were required to look after each other,” Lieutenant Jarrad Dekuyer said.