Brad Thorn and John Afoa in Heineken Cup final

17:00, May 16 2012
Brad Thorn
HE'S BACK: Brad Thorn is New Zealand preparing for his latest stint in Super Rugby, this time with the Highlanders.

One New Zealand World Cup winner is set to add European rugby's greatest prize to their glittering CV.

Former Crusaders and All Blacks lock Brad Thorn will line up for Leinster in Sunday's all-Irish Heineken Cup final at Twickenham against former Blues frontrower John Afoa's Ulster.

The pair were team-mates in the All Black squad that lifted the World Cup title for the first time in 24 years in Auckland last October.

Thorn, 37, linked with Leinster in March on a three-month loan from Japanese club Fukuoka Sanix Blues, who he joined a week after the World Cup victory.

The former Kangaroos rugby league international is a proven champion in big finals, having won Australian rugby league grand finals with the Brisbane Broncos, State of Origin series with Queensland, Super rugby titles with the Crusaders and the Ranfurly Shield with Canterbury and the World Cup with the All Blacks.

Thorn said after Leinster beat former Crusaders assistant coach Vern Cotter's French club Clermont Auvergne in the semifinal that the European competition was "good footy".

"Super Rugby is good footy but this is good too and it is cool to be part of it and have pride in wearing the Leinster jersey," he said.

Afoa, 28, joined Ulster immediately after the World Cup and has made a big impression in Northern Ireland.

Ulster coach Joe Schmidt, a former Bay of Plenty and Blues assistant coach, is expected to start Afoa at tighthead prop in Sunday's final now that he has served a four-match ban for a dangerous tackle in Ulster's quarterfinal victory over Munster.


The Press