CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — Brad Thorn has enhanced his coaching credentials by guiding Queensland Country from last place in Australia's National Rugby Championship in 2016 to premiership winners this season with a 42-28 win over the Canberra Vikings on Saturday.

Thorn, who played rugby league for Australia before switching allegiances and codes to play rugby union and win a World Cup for the New Zealand All Blacks, is set to take his first Super Rugby head coaching job with the Queensland Reds in 2018.

After a distinguished rugby league career with the Brisbane Broncos and the Queensland state-of-origin team, Thorn switched to the 15-man code and won the Super Rugby title with the Canterbury Crusaders and the Heineken Cup with Leinster in and around playing 59 tests for the All Blacks.

The 42-year-old Thorn was still fairly raw as a coach when he took over Queensland Country in the NRC, which had only previously won five games in the NRC.

But he molded a defense-oriented, hardened squad which placed second in the regular season and rallied from a 21-7 deficit in the final to beat Canberra in the title match.

Duncan Paia'aua crossed for two tries, including one in the 75th minute to put the result beyond doubt, and had a hand in two others.