Murray Wenzel
February 24, 2022 12:54PM

Brad Thorn will miss the skills and soft touch of Lukhan Salakaia-Loto at the Queensland Reds but doesn't begrudge his impending exit to the English Premiership.

The versatile lock, who has played for Australia in the second and backrow, will link with Northampton next season after seven years at Ballymore.

The 25-year-old is one of the Reds' most valuable men and biggest earners, but had slipped down the Wallabies pecking order ahead of the final year of his contract.

Unable to crack the Test squad again after leaving for the birth of his child ahead of the third Bledisloe Cup match last year, the lucrative European move was the obvious play.

Thorn was understanding but dismayed as he attempts to build a side that can compete with the might of New Zealand's world-leading domestic sides.

"I'd like him to stay here, he's been here seven seasons ... a wonderful guy I coached in under-20s and I've known since he was 19," he said.

"But it's an opportunity for him and his family and we wish him well when he goes.

"He's got some work to do here, but (any attempts to keep him in Australia are) in RA's hands, really.

"It means a lot to him to wear the jersey; he's worn it well for 64-odd games, he's a big part of our team, got a big heart, very caring guy."

News of his departure comes ahead of Friday's Super Rugby Pacific clash with the Waratahs.

The Reds will be without co-captain Liam Wright (shoulder) and centre Hunter Paisami (knee), while Thorn said flying winger Suliasi Vunivalu's return from repeated hamstring strains could come within a month.