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Friday 24 November 2017

All Black star would add serious muscle to Blues

BRAD THORN was the enforcer of Graham Henry’s All Blacks World Cup winning squad of 2011.

He even had the cheek to cross the rugby code divide from Australian rugby league devil to New Zealand World Cup god.

Born in New Zealand, Thorn, 36, was taken to live in Queensland at the tender age of eight.

Once there, he thrived in the rugby league hotbed and became a Brisbane Bronco for seven seasons, making a dent in the hardball environment of the State of Origin series for Queensland against New South Wales.

He was a versatile hard-man capable of mixing with the best muscle in League. This made him a target for converting to rugby union.

In 2001, Thorn transferred to the Canterbury Crusaders in the same season a 20-year-old Richie McCaw made his debut. The timing couldn’t have been any better.

It wasn’t all plain sailing though. He took time to adjust to the new

game. While he was listed in the 2011 All Black squad, he later withdrew due to his uncertainty over where his future lay.

Honesty

It was this honourable stance allied to his hard-edged honesty on the field of play that appealed to an initially suspect New Zealand public.

In 2003, Thorn became a dual code international and played his part in the 2003 World Cup, becoming just the second man in history to represent Australia in rugby league and New Zealand in rugby union.

Thorn returned to the Brisbane Broncos in 2005 for three years where he won a Premiership title at second row in 2006.

The ping-pong effect of his career continued back at The Crusaders, where he became the second player ever to capture a NRL (National Rugby League) and upper rugby title in 2008.

From there, he was seen as the type of old school lock forward the All Blacks were missing if they wanted to really hit the trenches hard.

Coach Henry was convinced Thorn was the missing piece in the puzzle of how to turn the All Blacks into World Cup winners for just the second time in their history.

So it came to pass that Thorn was the heart of the engine that repelled France in the World Cup final at Eden Park.

He then moved to Japanese club Fukuoka Sanix Blues, and is now being touted to join Leinster on a short-term contract in February.

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