Brad Thorn: A Tribute
What can be said about this man and his career that hasn’t already been said? His commitment and passion for rugby 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 any professional athlete should strive to achieve. You have to admit that if you caught up with Brad Thorn and narrowly missed, you’ve still done pretty well.
His first spell with the Brisbane Broncos is immediately noteworthy, not only for his own personal achievements, but also for the speed with which he achieved them. Season 94, in which he debuted in week twelve, saw him take the rookie of the year award with representative honors for Queensland and Australia to follow in the next three years. The ’97 grand finale would be Thorn’s first taste of prime ministerial glory, one he would experience the following year and then again in 2000.
After achieving success at all levels of rugby league, Thorn turned his attention to the ruthless and unforgiving world of New Zealand rugby. Someone with less talent and determination may have stumbled in this harsh new environment, but hardly missed a beat. The Canterbury Crusaders took out the NPC with Thorn sliding, almost effortlessly, into forward blocking position. At the end of the season he was offered the chance to become the first man since Bill Hardcastle to represent Australia in rugby league and New Zealand in rugby union, but he turned it down citing uncertainty about his commitment to the game. fifteen men. But, in 2003, he couldn’t resist the temptation any longer and made his official debut for the All Blacks at the Rugby World Cup and went on to represent them in the Tri-Nations that New Zealand would go on to win.
A final NPC with Canterbury would see Thorn return once again to the Broncos in 2005. While many hoped to see the champion at the helm in the twilight of his career, nothing would seem further from the truth. He would not only represent Queensland but also hold another premiership in 2006. After being named one of the 20 best Broncos to ever play for the club, he made the decision to once again return to rugby. Union.
Thorn was once again in unstoppable form, earning Crusader and All Black selection in only his second year back in the game. After more Super 14 and Tri-Nations titles, he finally reached the holy grail of rugby by winning the World Cup after a hard-fought 8-7 win over France in 2011. As if that wasn’t enough, a brief stint in Europa 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 race is, you first need to realize that it’s not over yet. That’s right, at 37, Thorn signed with Super Rugby franchise the Highlanders for the 2013 season. To me it seems almost certain that this will be his swan song, but for some reason a lingering doubt remains. I guess with someone like Brad Thorn, can you be sure of anything?