The Highlanders have confirmed that former All Black Brad Thorn has signed a one-year contract to play with the southern franchise for the 2013 Super Rugby season.
Thorn was part of the 2011 Rugby World Cup winning All Blacks and has been playing for Fukuoka Sanix Blues in Japan's Top League. He will join the Highlanders early in the new year to begin preparation for the coming season.
Thorn has a decorated professional sporting career, including success in the NRL with the Brisbane Broncos and Queensland, Super Rugby with the Crusaders and more recently with Irish-based rugby club Leicester who lifted the Heineken Cup in the European league.
Thorn made his test debut for the All Blacks in 2003 against Wales in Hamilton. He played 59 test matches in total, including his last test which was against France in the Rugby World Cup final last year.
Highlanders Head Coach Jamie Joseph, who recently returned from a visit to Japan, believes the inclusion of Thorn in the Highlanders squad will be invaluable for the 2013 campaign.
"Brad brings a great deal of professionalism to any team he plays for. His work ethic, experience and leadership will add a great deal to our team and have a very positive influence on the younger players" commented Joseph.
"Brad is a very competitive athlete and from what I saw in Japan recently he is still playing rugby at an International standard".
"We talk a lot about the culture at the Highlanders and Brad is a perfect fit, both on and off the field" added Joseph.
Highlanders General Manager Roger Clark commented that securing a player like Brad Thorn was great for the team, but also the franchise region as a whole.
"Brad started his rugby career in Mosgiel and he still has family in the region. A player of his calibre returning to offer something back to the region shows the kind of player and person he is. It's also a reflection of the progress the franchise has made over the past couple of years" commented Clark.
New Zealand Rugby Union General Manager Professional Rugby Neil Sorensen said,"This is exciting news for Highlanders fans and for rugby fans. Brad is an incredible athlete and professional who commands a lot of respect on and off the field because of his attitude and work rate."
"We're rapt to have Brad, Mary-Anne and the family back in New Zealand and we're looking forward to seeing him in action in the 2013 Super Rugby season."