Rugby: Thorn set for Crusaders return

Brad Thorn. Photo / Getty Images
Brad Thorn. Photo / Getty Images

All Blacks lock Brad Thorn is set to return from injury when the Crusaders face the Chiefs in a Super 15 rugby match in Napier on Saturday.

The 36-year-old has not featured since picking up a calf injury in the loss to the Highlanders in Nelson on April 23, but coach Todd Blackadder told Radio Live that he was ready to play.

"I know that Brad's chomping at the bit to get back," Blackadder said.

His injury-hit side welcomed back All Blacks first five-eighth Dan Carter and captain Richie McCaw for the 33-20 defeat at the hands of the Cheetahs on Sunday, and Blackadder said the key pair had coped well with the match.

"They both played really well. We just had to manage Dan's game time which is a little frustrating at times especially in a close game as you always like to see that experience out there, but we're pleased that both those guys came through unscathed and fit and ready for next week," he said.

Carter was disappointed with the defeat in Bloemfontein - his first game since the 44-28 win over the Sharks in London on March 27 - but was happy to get through the game after a frustrating time on the sidelines nursing a hamstring injury.

"I was happy to get through 50 minutes. I didn't feel it (the hamstring) throughout the game and pulled up pretty well afterwards - so it's all good," he told Radio Live.

"I was a little bit rusty, but it was good to get back out the field. You can train as much as you want but it is a lot different getting out there and playing."

Blackadder said halfback Andy Ellis was still a week away from a return and his back-up Kahn Fotuali'i would be back in a couple of weeks. It was understood that Sonny Bill Williams, who limped off against the Cheetahs with a knee injury, would be fit for the trip north.

Blackadder confirmed the Super 15 season was over for fullback Israel Dagg, wing Sean Maitland and utility back Adam Whitelock, but said he had faith in the squad's depth.

"The guys that have come in will do the job and give it their very best I'm sure - that's life and you carry on," he said.

The Crusaders would not train until Thursday, allowing players some time off after their three-match trip and a chance to recover from the 30-hour flight back from South Africa.


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