Brad Thorn isn’t the best player in the world, nor is he the best lock in the world. But the 37 year old All Black added another trophy to his loaded cabinet; He’s now the first and only player to play for a Rugby World Cup, Tri-Nation, Super Rugby and Heineken Cup champion. He might add the Pro 12 title next Sunday.
Leinster, unlike the Irish rugby team, know how to close tournaments and win titles. They haven’t won the Pro 12 title since 2008, but that might change when they face Ospreys next Sunday in Dublin. For now, they’re about Heineken Cup trophies. After beating Ulster in a 42-14 thrashing watched by 81,000 in Twickenham, they have now won the title three times, all in the last four seasons.
It’s hard to explain Leinster’s success. But heart and their ambition for titles stands in the middle of it. Brian O’Driscoll’s magical influence comes to mind. He just came off surgery, but he was arguably the best man on the pitch, along with Sean O’Brien and Jonathan Sexton. Thorn might have not left much of an impact, but being so successful at this age has to count for something.
I would have just been happy with all my NRL stuff and do some cool stuff over there. But I have always been a big dreamer. Years ago I never dreamed that what happened in my NRL career would happen. Now I just don’t believe it again in union. To do and win all I have is amazing.
Most of all I love the camaraderie. As a six-year-old I used to get nervous before a game playing with my mates. Now, as a 37-year-old I still get nervous before a game with my mates. It’s so special. It’s not so much about what’s going to happen next. It’s just about enjoying today and only the Lord knows what will happen in the future. We shall see how it works out. Physically I have always been lucky. I feel pretty good. Mentally, that is the last thing I am thinking about.
Thorn wasn’t even supposed to be here. After the world cup he bid his farewell to Super Rugby and the Crusaders, heading off to Japan, signing with Fukuoka Sanix Blues, thinking about ending his career over there. But an injury crisis for the Dublin team brought Thorn to sign on for a few months. A panic signing maybe, but a worthwhile one.