A life after rugby begins at 40 for Brad Thorn
An evergreen Brad Thorn hopes to get one more full season out of his body before finally calling it quits.
The dual international turns 40 in February and plans to retire sometime in 2015.
"I love my footy and the team still want me," Thorn told Fairfax Media yesterday.
"It's a ridiculous age, 39, to still be playing footy, I know, [but] I feel pretty good, I still feel like I can mix it and I'll just see how it goes."
Thorn's contract with the Highlanders runs out at the end of the season and he has previously played rugby in Japan and Europe.
A final season in New Zealand or a return to Europe look the most likely options, he said.
"I turn 40 in February and that's been my goal, to play top level at 40 and then I'm out, I'm finished. That will either be here or in Europe, I'd suggest. It's a great challenge, but it may not happen. If I feel like I've had enough at the end of this year, then I'll call it a day this year, but that's where I'm heading."
Like most rugby players who are the other side of 30, thoughts of what he'll do after his playing days are never far from Thorn's mind.
He has been working with Highlanders strength and conditioning coach Andrew Beardmore and travelled to Australia to complete a level one conditioning course.
A role as a forward coach is another sport-related option which appeals.
Thorn played 200 games for the Brisbane Broncos in the NRL, along with State of Origin and tests, 147 first-class rugby games across various franchises and provinces, and 60 times for the All Blacks in a storied career which has largely been injury free.
Which has made the past three weeks a strange experience for the big second-rower as he recovered from a popped rib suffered during the win over the Blues in round one.
The Thorn family have become used to having Dad around a lot more during the weekends.
"When [the Highlanders] went up to Hamilton to play the Chiefs, me and my wife were like 'wow, a spare weekend'. Usually I don't miss games at all and I'm always away. I've been having to help out with a few more meals at home and a few extra drop-offs, so it will be nice to get back to footy," he joked.
The Highlanders have spent the past week trying to put a disappointing loss to the Western Force behind them.
Thorn said it was difficult to gauge just how a team was doing that, because a good week of training did not always translate into a good performance on game day.
The best personal preparation was about having routines and sticking to them, Thorn said.
"At this level of sport, if you are not 'on' in this competition, anyone can beat you.
"It comes down to turning up ready to play, that's something [Broncos coach] Wayne Bennett used to say as well. You have weeks where you train well and weeks when you don't, but it's about turning up on the night ready to play footy."
The Southland Times