Thorn will be 38 in February
Celebrated All Black and Kangaroo star Brad Thorn could be playing in New Zealand as early as next year.
According to a report in the Otago Daily Times Highlanders coach Jamie Joseph is believed to have met with Thorn in Japan last month.
It is believed they have come to an agreement about Thorn playing in the south next year.
Thorn left for Japan on a two-year deal with club side Fukuoko Sanix Blues, shortly after helping the All Blacks win the 2011 World Cup.
He then played a short stint in Ireland midway through his contract, helping Leinster win the Heineken Cup.
Thorn, who will be 38 in February, would give the Highlanders forwards bucketloads of experience.
He has been playing at the top level for 18 years, in both Rugby Union and Rugby League, and has won almost everything in both forms of the game.
With the addition of Thorn, All Black prop Tony Woodcock (who will be 32), and experienced All Black hooker Andrew Hore (who turns 35 next year), the Highlanders forward pack would have a look of steel about it.
The young 'pup' of the Highlanders front will be one-time All Black Jamie Mackintosh, who turns 28.
Thorn last played in this country for the All Blacks at the year's World Cup last year, and was a key man for the home side as it won the tournament.
He then left for Japan, on a two-year deal to play for the Fukuoka Sanix Blues.
That contract would finish about late February next year, just in time to play for the Highlanders in 2013.
Thorn may be in the veteran stage and old enough to play golden oldies rugby, but he is a consummate professional and his training habits and discipline would be a great asset for the Highlanders.
Thorn was born in Mosgiel - an urban satellite of Dunedin - in 1975 and still has family in the area.
When he was aged eight, the family relocated to Brisbane where he started playing Rugby League.
He made his debut for the Brisbane Broncos in the National Rugby League competition in 1994 and went on to play 200 games for the Broncos as well as playing for Queensland and Australia.
In 2001 he made his first switch to Rugby Union, linking with Canterbury and the Crusaders.
He made his All Black debut in 2003, after turning down a chance to wear the black jersey in 2001, as he felt he was not ready for it.
At the end of the 2004 season, Thorn switched back to Rugby League and went back to the Broncos.
At the start of 2008 he was signed by the Crusaders, initially on a one-season deal, but such was his form he was picked in the All Blacks and was an ever-present player in the side through to the World Cup.
Earlier this year, Thorn signed a three-month contract with Irish club Leinster and won the Heineken Cup.
And while Thorn may be coming to a New Zealand side from Japan, it is believed Ma'a Nonu is going the other way.
Nonu has yet to confirm what side he will play for next year but there is a strong chance he may now head offshore.
The Highlanders were keen to land Nonu but that appears unlikely now.