Brad Thorn's move to Highlanders confirmed
The news just keeps getting better for the Highlanders, with confirmation today that All Black legend Brad Thorn was joining the southern franchise for the 2013 Super Rugby season.
Following on the heels of coach Jamie Joseph luring current All Blacks Tony Woodcock and Ma'a Nonu south from the Blues, the addition of the 37-year-old All Black World Cup-winner adds further steel to what's shaping as a strong Highlanders pack.
Thorn has been playing for Fukuoka Sanix Blues in Japan's Top League and will join the Highlanders early in the new year to begin preparation for the coming season.
The Mosgiel-born dual-code international has had a decorated professional sporting career, including success in the NRL with the Brisbane Broncos and Queensland, Super Rugby with the Crusaders and more recently with Irish-based rugby club Leinster who lifted the Heineken Cup in the European league.
Thorn made his debut for the All Blacks in 2003 against Wales in Hamilton and played 59 tests, with his last test against France in the World Cup final last year.
Joseph, who recently returned from a visit to Japan, believes Thorn still has plenty to offer at the Super Rugby level.
"Brad brings a great deal of professionalism to any team he plays for," said Joseph today. "His work ethic, experience and leadership will add a great deal to our team and have a very positive influence on the younger players.
"Brad is a very competitive athlete and from what I saw in Japan recently he is still playing rugby at an International standard.
"We talk a lot about the culture at the Highlanders and Brad is a perfect fit, both on and off the field."
Highlanders General Manager Roger Clark said Thorn's addition would have positive benefits for the entire Highlanders region.
"Brad started his rugby in Mosgiel and still has family in the region. A player of his calibre returning to offer something back to the region shows the kind of person he is.
It's also a reflection of the progress the franchise has made over the past couple of years," he said.
"This is exciting news for Highlanders fans and for rugby fans," added New Zealand Rugby Union General Manager Professional Rugby Neil Sorensen.
"Brad is an incredible athlete and professional who commands a lot of respect because of his attitude and workrate. We're rapt to have Brad, Mary-Anne and the family back in New Zealand."