'Significant chapter' for big bad Brad
'Significant chapter' for big bad BradSHARE
One of the toughest competitors in New Zealand, veteran lock Brad Thorn, is set to mark his 100th match in Super Rugby when he leads the Highlanders out onto Forsyth Barr Stadium pitch on Saturday.
And the plaudits flowed freely for the 38-year-old dual international.
Top of that list is All Black coach Steve Hansen, who will make a special presentation of a greenstone mere to Thorn, following the match.
This traditional gift is presented to all New Zealand Super Rugby players when reaching the 100 game milestone.
Thorn will lock down for the Highlanders' scrum in their Round 12 match against the Sharks, having previously played 92 games for the Crusaders between 2001 and 2011.
He will join 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.
"Saturday's match will mark another significant chapter in what has been an extraordinary career," said New Zealand Rugby Chairman Mike Eagle.
"The passion and commitment Brad has exhibited throughout his career mark him as the consummate professional sportsman.
"For Brad to celebrate his century in Dunedin, only a few kilometres from his birthplace in Mosgiel, will be very special for him and his family.
"His impressive rugby CV boasts 59 tests for the All Blacks, including a World Cup win, and 30 appearances for Canterbury.
"He has also tasted success on both sides of the world, having last year added a European Cup championship winner's medal to his collection after helping Leinster to the title.
"I am sure rugby fans throughout New Zealand and around the world will salute Brad on his latest achievement," added Eagle.
"This is a wonderful achievement by a remarkable athlete and we congratulate Brad on his century of appearances."
Highlanders' coach Jamie Joseph said of Thorn: "Brad is a great player who brings a work ethic like no other. 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 said: "On behalf of the Highlanders franchise, and all those who support Brad, we offer our congratulations on achieving 100 Super Rugby games.
"He brings up this milestone in a Highlanders jersey with his family in attendance, which is special for all of us."
* Rotate the pictures to see a gallery of Big Bad Brad!