Rugby Union

Brad Thorn could play in Super Rugby for Reds next year at age of 41

Brad Thorn doesn't "retire" like normal mortals. He merely takes a break, makes use of his Wolverine-esque recuperative powers and decides when, how and if he returns to the rugby field.

It could be next season at this rate. At 40, a year older than when Muhammad Ali retired, he has hinted at a possible playing return should he be required to suit up by the Queensland Reds, whom he has joined as a coach for emerging forwards. When the season starts next year he will have turned 41.

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Brad Thorn joins the Reds

All Blacks and Broncos legend Brad Thorn takes up a new coaching role with the Queensland Reds, saying he is "happy to help out" if called on to play.

Thorn has arrived back in Brisbane, a city he has always called home despite his sporting travels across multiple codes and continents. His presence at Ballymore shapes as a genuine coup for the Reds, who have snared one of the most-respected big men the game has ever seen.

It was designed to be as a coach only yet it is understood Thorn insisted on a clause in his contract that allowed him to be selected as a player, should the opportunity or emergency arise.

Certainly Queensland's lock stocks are on the thinner side of things, with veteran James Horwill now playing in England and his replacement, Kane Douglas, on the long-term injury list after knee surgery. He could miss the entire season.

Wallaby Rob Simmons will be the main man, along with Cadeyrn Neville, who joins the Reds tight five from the Melbourne Rebels. Australian under-20s lock Lukhan Tui also stands to be thrown in the deep end.

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All of which makes a re-appearance of Thorn more than a curiosity. He only finished with English club side Leicester midway through the year and few would doubt his ability to mix it up in Super Rugby once again.

"There's always an urge. I didn't actually retire – I'm just playing less now," Thorn said. "If things were like dire straits, I'm happy to help out any way I can but I think things are under control at the moment."

Thorn is noted for his dedication to physical excellence and would have kept himself in prime shape during the off-season, even if his playing future remains unclear.

Any return would be great PR for the Reds, although they would rather have a fit Douglas, whose injury continues the bad luck of recent big-name signings, given what transpired around Karmichael Hunt in 2014 and the poor season turned in by an injury-riddled James O'Connor.

The Reds start their season on February 27 against the Waratahs in Sydney.

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