Wednesday, March 26, 2008

"He's a man." *

I don't have much time on my hands these days, but I'll always put a few minutes aside to read about this guy.

Thorn ups the ante

Duncan Johnstone
March 26, 2008

The Crusaders are smiling over the stunning return to rugby from Brad Thorn and assistant coach Mark Hammett reckons their joy might be infectious when it comes to the All Blacks.

"I'd suspect the All Blacks selectors are smiling from ear to ear in terms of Brad Thorn," says Hammett in a typically straightforward assessment of his lock's second stint at the 15-man game.

Thorn, of course, is the Brisbane Broncos legend who joined the Crusaders in 2001, played 12 tests for the All Blacks through to the 2003 World Cup and then went back to the NRL.

He stunned everyone late last year when he turned up again in the Super 14 squad. Now the Crusaders' coup may have an invalubale spin-off for the men in black.

Thorn has settled into Christchurch again and by the looks of things is putting his hand up for an international recall at a time when the locking stocks aren't exactly their deepest with Chris Jack gone and James Ryan and Ross Filipo injured.

At the ripe age of 33 that mightn't be a selection for the future but in terms of right now there aren't many better second rowers going around than the super-fit and ultra competitive Thorn.

"Brad has just been outstanding," continues Hammett, the former All Blacks hooker making a good fist of things managing the Crusaders pack alongside master coach Robbie Deans.

Hammett reckons Thorn is a better player now and has learned to blend some key traits from league into his rugby game. His fitness and stamina have been extraordinary over the first six rounds of the championship being played under the new rules where the Crusaders have gone unbeaten.

They take an eight-point lead into the Cake Tin on Friday night when they square off against the Hurricanes who have another comeback lock in their midst in the form of Jason Eaton. The national selectors have a feast in front of them in the capital from the front row through to the fullbacks.

But back to Hammett on Thorn: "He offers so much because he is a set piece specialist ... there are not many who are better than him in that area.

"Then he adds the dimension of being able to run with the ball and he is also very often amongst our top defenders. So he is very valuable to us.

"He has come in from years of the NRL where it is week after week grind so he is knows how to do it ... he has a great way with training."

Thorn (1.95m and 112kg) also has a helping hand at his side in another Crusaders newcomer, his old All Blacks locking mate Ali Williams. ...

Read the rest.


Bartman at The Silver Fern has his Form XV - Round 6:

5: Brad Thorn (Crusaders).

If he is not among the two best locks in New Zealand at the moment, I will eat my hat. Age barriers be dammed, Thorn is playing the best rugby of his life. A dominating presence in the tight, winning a ton of lineout ball, and making defences pay in pain every time they have to tackle the big man.

* Murray Mexted's short straight-to-the-point assessment of Brad Thorn, Crusaders vs. Cheetahs tv b'cast, 03/15/2008.


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