Thorn draws line at Slipper’s cocaine use
STRAIGHT-SHOOTING Reds coach Brad Thorn said he had compassion for James Slipper's personal issues but zero-tolerance on his cocaine use.
Thorn spoke quietly and with feeling on Saturday night when trying to make sense of this week's shock revelation that senior Reds prop Slipper had twice tested positive to cocaine in out-of-competition tests.
"The situation is gutting, it's disappointing. Slips has been struggling with some stuff and there is compassion around that and the club will be supporting him with the attention he needs," Thorn said.
"The other side of that is cocaine.
"You can't have that.
"You're the head coach of the club and I've got all these young guys (in the squad).
"I watch my sons playing rugby at school and there are all the kids playing rugby.
"It's a real issue that to me.
"There are two sides to it but you can't have that, you can't have cocaine, drug use. It's a tough one.
"For me, I don't want to let down those mums and dads. I've got my own children."
Thorn and Slipper spent time adjusting his training schedule during the off-season when the 86-Test prop was dealing with his mother's cancer fight.
Slipper's welfare is considered a priority with the long-time Wallaby admitting he was "not coping", including a battle with depression which he is receiving treatment.
"For me, family comes first and I said don't come in at all if that's what you need," Thorn said.
"I didn't have knowledge of that other stuff (with the drug tests)."
Slipper is under a two-month suspension during which time he will seek extra mental health care.
Slipper is off-contract at the end of the year and Thorn is sensitive to not being drawn on the evolving case.
"The club will address stuff down the track," Thorn said.
Thorn was speaking after his Queensland Reds did not have the match smarts to finish off the Highlanders in a disappointing 18-15 loss at Suncorp Stadium when tremendous scrambling in defence, heart and moments of brilliance were not enough.
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