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Brad Thorn: A Tribute
What can be said about this man and his career that hasn’t already happened? His commitment and passion to both rugby union and rugby league is something that can be admired and respected by all and should serve as a benchmark, albeit a very high one, that every professional sports player should strive for. reach You have to admit that if you reached for Brad Thorn and just missed, you still did pretty well.
His first-team status at the Brisbane Broncos is immediately notable, not just for his personal achievements, but for the speed with which they were achieved. Season 94, in which he debuted in week twelve, saw him pick up the Rookie of the Year award with representative honors for Queensland and Australia to follow within the next three years. The ’97 grand final would be Thorn’s first taste of premiership glory, one he would experience the following year and then again in 2000.
After achieving success at every level in rugby league, Thorn turned his attention to the ruthless and unforgiving world of New Zealand rugby. Someone with less talent and determination might have stuck around in this new, harsh environment, but he barely missed a beat. The Canterbury Crusaders took out the NPC with Thorn sliding, almost effortlessly, into the forward blocking position. A chance to become the first man since Bill Hardcastle to represent Australia in rugby league and New Zealand in rugby union was offered to him at the end of the season, but he turned it down citing his uncertainty about the commitment of his in the game of fifteen players. But in 2003, he could no longer resist the temptation and made his official debut for the All Blacks at the Rugby World Cup and went on to represent them at the Tri-Nations which New Zealand would go on to win.
A final NPC with Canterbury would see Thorn return to the Broncos once more in 2005. While many expected to see the champion forward in the twilight of his career, nothing could have seemed further from the truth. He would go on to not only represent Queensland, but also claim another premiership in 2006. After being named one of the 20 greatest Broncos to ever play for the club, he made the decision to, once again, to return to rugby union.
Thorn was again in unstoppable form, achieving Crusader and All Black selection in just his second year back in the game. After more Super 14 titles and Tri-Nations success, he finally achieved rugby’s holy grail by lifting the World Cup after a hard-fought 8-7 win over France in 2011. If that wasn’t enough, an attitude of short spell with European champions Leinster would see him add the Heineken Cup to his long list of achievements.
When you want to describe a man like Brad Thorn, any number of superlatives will do. But to fully understand how remarkable this career is, you must first understand that it is not over yet. That’s right, at the age of 37 Thorn has signed with the Super Rugby franchise Highlanders for the 2013 season. To myself, it seems almost certain that this will be his swan song, but for some reason there remains a doubt of continuous. I guess with someone like Brad Thorn, can you ever be sure of anything?
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