Thorn weighs up Slipper's Reds future, rubbishes 'nipple rule'

Queensland Reds Head Coach Brad Thorn won't guarantee a future at his club for suspended veteran James Slipper.

The off-contract prop received a two-month suspension on Thursday, and $27,500 fine after twice testing positive for cocaine.

Slipper has been battling depression and had Thorn's blessing prior to Christmas to limit his training schedule as he helped his mother in her battle with cancer.

While the former All Black said his compassion remained with Slipper, he insisted that it didn't excuse the veteran prop's indiscretions.

"It's a tough one because obviously Slips has been struggling and there's some compassion around that and caring for that and supporting that," Thorn said

"The other side is, cocaine - you can't have that.

"As a head coach of the club, I've got all my young guys in here, Queensland Rugby, watching my sons play rugby at school.

"For me I don't want to let down those mums and dads and these young guys."

Thorn's Queenslanders lost 18-15 to the Highlanders at Suncorp Stadium on Saturday and, now a distant third in the Australian conference, are unlikely to feature in the Super Rugby Finals.

The suspension means Slipper may have played his last game at the club he has been at since 2010.

Thorn says he hasn't had a chance to consider if Slipper will be offered another contract after celebrating his 100th Super Rugby cap at the club earlier this season.

However, he has already shown his hand, keeping Karmichael Hunt on the outer since his own cocaine-related dramas earlier this year.

"There's two sides ... supporting him and the attention he needs and also the side of all the kids playing rugby ... you can't have that (drug use)," he said.

"It's a matter of addressing that (contract) stuff down the track."

One of world rugby's toughest men, Thorn has also weighed in on the the introduction of what has been dubbed the "nipple rule".

In an effort to halt the increase in head injuries and concussion, World Rugby will trial rule changes at under-20 competitions starting this week in France that lower the height of tackles.

As part of the trial, the acceptable height of a tackle will be lowered from the shoulders to "below the nipple line", according to the governing body.

High tackle warnings will also be trialed in the World Rugby Under 20 Championship starting this week, with two warnings resulting in an automatic one-match suspension.

"Soon it'll be the belly button ... where's it going to go, where's it going to end?

"For me, I'm just pleased I'm retired because (when he played) you could just cut loose. I still reckon the (rugby) crowds enjoy some contact, some physicality.

"If someone is deliberately picking a guy up and spear tackling or someone deliberately takes someone's head off then yeah, definitely, that needs to be sorted out.

"When you're like (Reds lock Izack) Rodda - 6'7", 6'8", 120kg, trying to play aggressive, coming in hard - it's not always easy."