MELBOURNE, Aug 13 – As a grieving 19-year-old, Brad Thorn found solace in returning to rugby league after personal tragedy, so he hopes Jordan Petaia might find comfort on his return to the Queensland Reds following the sudden death of his father.
The Reds coach named Petaia on the wing for the crunch Super Rugby AU match against the Melbourne Rebels on Saturday, a little more than a week after the 20-year-old’s loss.
Petaia, who became Australia’s youngest ever Rugby World Cup debutant in Japan last year, missed the heavy defeat to the New South Wales Waratahs last Saturday and was offered as much time as he needed away from the game.
But he was glad to have returned to the team environment this week, Thorn told reporters on Thursday.
“It was a tough time for Jordie and a tough time for a lot of us, I guess,” said Thorn.
“Those situations can be tough for a while, losing someone like his dad like that.
“He´s been in training with us and we´re really happy to have him involved with us and it´s been good for Jordie.
“It´s been good for the team. He´ll be looking forward to the game.”
Thorn’s father died of a heart attack when he was starting out with National Rugby League side Brisbane in the mid-1990s.
He said returning to football had helped him deal with things.
“I guess I had exactly the same thing happen to me … So I know where that´s at,” he said.
“Training was good for me, to be around the guys, and he´s really enjoyed being around the guys. At the end of the day, he´s a rugby player and he wants to play.”
Thorn said the Reds were “quiet” in the leadup to their 45-12 thrashing by the Waratahs in Sydney last week, but were ready to respond at home against the Rebels, who they drew 18-18 with in their previous clash early in the domestic competition. (Reporting by Ian Ransom Editing by Robert Birsel)