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Rugby Championship/Bledisloe Cup

Thorn says sayonara

ALL BLACKS and Crusaders lock Brad Thorn has confirmed he will play in Japan after the World Cup.

The 36-year-old has signed a two-year deal with Fukuoka Sanix Blues.

All Blacks Coach Graham Henry said Thorn was “one of a kind, a special man and a special All Black.”

“He is a tower of strength to the All Blacks and New Zealand rugby and is the ultimate professional – professionalism which has been honed over 17 years of top-level football.

“On the field he has a hard edge, both physically and mentally, and he gives his all to his teammates. Off field, he unobtrusively ensures others are progressing well. He is an inspiration.”

The 50-test veteran first made a name for himself in seven seasons with the Brisbane Broncos before crossing codes play rugby in New Zealand, making his Super Rugby and provincial debut in 2001.

He was first selected for the All Blacks at the end of that year, but withdrew from the team so that he could take time to decide on his sporting future.

After taking a year off from sport, he returned to the rugby field and was again selected for the All Blacks in 2003, playing 12 tests.

After a second stint in rugby league from 2005-07, he returned to the All Blacks in 2008 as an elder statesman and has been a mainstay in the second row ever since, playing 38 tests in the last three years.

“On behalf of the All Blacks, I congratulate him on what he has achieved – and will continue to achieve – for Crusaders and All Blacks rugby,” said Henry.

“The remarkable thing is at 36 years young he is still improving and, knowing Brad, he will continue to improve. He will go to Japan next year with our very best wishes.”

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