Super Rugby
Brad Thorn goes back to his roots
March 8, 2013
All Blacks lock Brad Thorn enjoys a joke with the media, New Zealand press conference, Rugby World Cup, Auckland, New Zealand, October 17, 2011
Brad Thorn "had a lot of fun in Brisbane and in Canterbury and, in the last year or two, I've had some great experiences in Ireland and Japan" © Getty Images

Former All Blacks enforcer Brad Thorn gets the chance to represent the region of his birth when he makes his Highlanders debut against the Cheetahs in Invercargill on Saturday night.

Thorn missed the Highlanders' first Super Rugby game of the year because of a strained calf, but the ex-Crusaders star is one of three changes to the starting line-up from the 41-27 defeat by defending champions the Chiefs in Dunedin. Thorn replaces Jarrad Hoeata at lock, Andrew Hore captains the Highlanders for the first time after completing a five-match suspension from the All Blacks' end-of-season tour, and Highlanders newcomer Jake Paringatai takes over from injured Nasi Manu at No. 8.

Thorn, a one-time Brisbane Broncos player in the NRL, and a dual international after having also represented Australia in rugby league, was born in Mosgiel, on the outskirts of Dunedin.

"The motivation is that I was born here and I want to represent this area," Thorn said of his decision to head home after a stint overseas. "I had a lot of fun in Brisbane and in Canterbury and, in the last year or two, I've had some great experiences in Ireland and Japan. This was a great opportunity. I thought it would be pretty special to come back and play here."

Thorn, 38, attributed his durability to "a lot of luck and a lot of hard work". He said that his present fitness was "OK", and he was looking forward to getting on the field in a competitive match. "I'm just battling away," he said. "I probably need to shave more because there are a few grey hairs coming through."

Thorn's goal is to add value and experience to the Highlanders, something Hore said he had already done.

The Highlanders, who had a bye last weekend, will want to get their season on track after opening with a loss. And the addition of Thorn and Hore should improve their set piece, which was shaky against the Chiefs.


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