Switch Blade, no problem for the Hurricanes
By the time Blade Thomson had finished, it was hard to know if he was a lock, loose forward or wing.
What wasn't in doubt after the Hurricanes 16-9 win over the Crusaders, was the 23-year-old had played a blinder after scoring two match-deciding tries at Westpac Stadium.
"Bro, I don't care. As long as I'm on the field and contributing to the team I'm happy," was Thomson's response when quizzed on his favoured position.
"It was awesome to dot down but it was the boys who played well. We showed belief and pride in the swirl and we got it done. I'm just stoked right now."
Thomson has been stoked all season and in front of his partner and nine month old son Zachariah he showed why the Hurricanes would do well to finalise negotiations for a new contract to keep him in the capital next season.
The former New Zealand under-20s representative started Saturday's match at lock before moving to No 8 when Victor Vito went off with a blown calf muscle within the opening 10 minutes.
Five minutes from fulltime, Thomson still had enough in the tank to spring past Crusaders wing Nafi Tuitavake, regather a Cory Jane grubber, and fly 50 metres to the try line.
"Particularly, when you think a guy like that had to worked his butt off at set piece time at lock," Hurricanes coach Mark Hammett said of the match-sealing try.
"Obviously, the Crusaders scrum [was very strong] and they were starting to maul and he was in the engine room and then had to be moved to No 8. To score that try, he's quite a special athlete.
"He's developed over time and people are just seeing what a good football player he is now."
Earlier Thomson had stepped inside Crusaders wing Johnny McNicholl and swerved outside a diving Jordan Taufua to score the Hurricanes first try.
The Gisborne Boys High School old boy has been strong all season. He was among the best of a struggling bunch when he started the opening four matches at No 8 following injuries to incumbents Vito and Brad Shields.
And Thomson did little wrong in a string of seven cameos off the bench, mostly at lock, before Hammett promoted him ahead of James Broadhurst after the June test break.
Though he's spent much of the year beefing up from about 105kg to nearly 110kg, at 1.98m Thomson has shown this season he's equally capable of playing in the loose forwards.
Just where he plays next week against the Chiefs in Hamilton remains to be seen but with loose forwards Ardie Savea, Jack Lam and Shields all superb against the Crusaders, he may find himself back at lock.
Meanwhile, the crowd of 16,058, the Hurricanes best of the season, pushed their average at Westpac Stadium above last year's figure of 10,938 per match.
The Dominion Post