Thorn just wanted to be one of sport's winners

Last updated 05:00 29/06/2013
Brad Thorn
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THE MAN: Brad Thorn makes a joke during a presentation after his 100th Super Rugby match, the Highlanders' first win of 2013.

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Brad Thorn has never been tempted to use his 112kg frame as a record of his favourite sporting memories.

Unlike many players who inscribe anything from Pasifika designs to their favourite cartoon characters on their bodies, he hasn't been seduced by the hum of a tattooist's needle.

But if Thorn did choose to get an inscription of his most cherished sporting achievement he may struggle to make a decision.

Along with the World Cup medal he won with the All Blacks in 2011 there have been NRL premiership rings with the Brisbane Broncos, a European crown with Leinster and a Super Rugby title with the Crusaders.

"My Dad died when I was 19 and my wife's brother died around 2003 - and I have won grand finals and stuff but never at any of those times have I felt the urge to put something on my flesh," says Thorn, who will play at lock for the Highlanders against the Crusaders in Dunedin tonight.

"I remember in my heart and my mind - things like that."

Former Broncos team-mate Petero Civoniceva once stated a movie could be made about Thorn's remarkable career, given the 38-year-old's achievements.

For the time being, however, Thorn is content to keep his personal and sporting memories within.

The reasons for returning to New Zealand to play for the Highlanders this season were close to his soul.

Born in Mosgiel, his family shifted to Bannockburn in Central Otago before relocating to Australia where he began playing rugby league and eventually represented the Kangaroos and Queensland.

Earlier this month a crowd of around 2500 people were drawn a club game to watch Thorn play for Taieri, the club his father Lindsay and brother Aaron also played for.

"That was real big, it was a very emotional day. It meant a lot to me, it couldn't have been better."

Now, for the second time this year, Thorn will tangle with the Crusaders - the outfit he ranks alongside the Broncos as being "the love of my clubs".

He admits his emotions, when he met the Crusaders at AMI Stadium on April 20, created a "weird" sensation.

The Crusaders won 24-8 and need another victory this evening to ensure their play-off hopes remain intact.

Because the Highlanders' have no hope of qualifying for the play-offs there have been suggestions they will draw their motivation from having the chance to knock over a title contender.

"To me I don't buy into that," Thorn adds. "No matter whether you are in first place or last, I just want to win. I just want to give it everything I have."

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When the Highlanders' season ends will step off the rugby carousel for a couple of months but has not ruled-out returning to the Dunedin franchise.

In the last 29 months he has endured an almost non-stop schedule of playing for the Crusaders, All Blacks, Sanix (Japan), Leinster (Ireland) and the Highlanders.

Lately he has been thinking more about life after rugby and said working as a strength trainer holds some appeal.

When he does finally retire he may finally be able to watch the All Blacks play. His one and only attempt since the World Cup final victory over France left him in a state.

"My head got all hot and I got a bit of taste in the back of my throat.

"I wanted to compete and I want to be out there.

"The No 4 jersey meant a lot to me. It's just better off I don't watch it really. Maybe it's because I'm still playing - maybe when I am finished-up and retired I will watch it then.

"I think it's the competitor in me."

- Fairfax Media


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