What can be said of this man and his career that hasn’t been already? His commitment and passion towards 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 any professional sporting player should strive to achieve. You have to admit that if you reached for Brad Thorn and only just missed, you’ve still done pretty well.
His first stint at the Brisbane Broncos is immediately note-worthy, not just for his own personal achievements but the speed in which they were achieved. The 94 season, in which he debuted in week twelve, saw him take out 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 of lesser talent and determination may have stumbled in this new, harsh environment but he barely missed a beat. The Canterbury Crusaders took out the NPC with Thorn slipping, almost effortlessly, into the position of lock forward. 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 seasons end, but he turned it down citing his uncertainty of his commitment to the fifteen man game. But, come 2003, he could resist the temptation no longer and made his official debut for the All Blacks in the Rugby World Cup and continued to represent them in the Tri-Nations which 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 expected to see the champion forward in the twilight of his career, nothing would seem further from the truth. He would go on to not only represent Queensland but also take out 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, switch back to rugby union.
Thorn was again in unstoppable form, achieving Crusader and All Black selection in only his second year back in the game. After more super 14 titles and Tri-Nations success he finally reached the holy grail of rugby by taking out the World Cup after a hard fought 8-7 win over France in 2011. As if this wasn’t enough, a short stint 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 just how remarkable this career is, you must first realize that it hasn’t even finished yet. That is correct, at age 37 Thorn has signed on with Super Rugby franchise the Highlanders for the 2013 season. For myself, 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 ever be sure of anything?