Big bad Brad a 'natural leader'
Veteran All Black lock Brad Thorn, who will make his 100th Super Rugby appearance on Friday, has been described as a "natural leader".
Veteran All Black lock Brad Thorn, who will run out onto Forsyth Barr Stadium pitch for his 100th Super Rugby appearance on Friday, has been described as a "natural leader".
Thorn joins fellow Highlander Chris King, who also reached this significant milestone of a century in Super Rugby caps this season.
Thorn made his Super Rugby debut for the Crusaders in 2001 and played 92 games for the red & blacks until the end of 2011.
He linked up with the Highlanders in 2013 and he joins a small and illustrious group of centurions, with only Anton Oliver (127 games), Jimmy Cowan (108), Tony Brown (108) and Chris King (102) also to reach the milestone while playing for the southern franchise.
"Brad is a great player who brings a work ethic like no other," Highlanders coach Jamie Joseph said.
"He's a natural leader within our environment, and he has added a massive amount to our leadership group this season."
Highlanders Chief Executive Roger Clark also heaped plaudits on the 38-year-old international.
"On behalf of the Highlanders franchise, and all those who support Brad, we offer our congratulations on achieving 100 Super Rugby games," Clark said.
"He brings up this milestone in a Highlanders jersey with his family in attendance, which is special for all of us."
* Meanwhile the coach, Joseph, made four changes to the starting team to face the Sharks on Saturday.
The forward pack remains unchanged from the eight that started in the 8-24 loss to the Crusaders a fortnight ago.
In the backs Colin Slade starts at No.10 and Hayden Parker moves back to the replacement bench.
Ma'a Nonu has been ruled out through injury, bringing Shaun Treeby back into the starting XV in his place at inside centre.
Tamati Ellison makes a long awaited return from a shoulder injury and he will start at outside centre.
Phil Burleigh will start on the right wing.
Players still ruled out by injury include Brayden Mitchell (shoulder - two weeks till his return), Kade Poki (ribs - three weeks), Ma'a Nonu (knee - two to three weeks), Buxton Popoalii (ankle - four week), Lima Sopoaga (ankle - four weeks) and Mose Tuiali'i (knee - one week).
Highlanders: 15 Ben Smith, 14 Phil Burleigh, 13 Tamati Ellison, 12 Shaun Treeby, 11 Hosea Gear, 10 Colin Slade, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 TJ Ioane, 7 John Hardie, 6 Jarrad Hoeata, 5 Josh Bekhuis, 4 Brad Thorn, 3 Chris King, 2 Andrew Hore (captain), 1 Tony Woodcock.
Replacements: 16 Liam Coltman, 17 Ma'afu Fia, 18 Elliot Dixon, 19 Joe Wheeler, 20 Fumiaka Tanaka, 21 Hayden Parker, 22 Jason Emery.
Date: Saturday, May 4
Time: 19.35 (09.35 SA time; 07.35 GMT)
Venue: Forsyth Barr Stadium, Dunedin
Referee: Steve Walsh
Assistant Referees: Mike Fraser, Kane McBride
TMO: Keith Brown