Gregor Paul 's Opinion

Gregor Paul is the Herald on Sunday's rugby writer

Gregor Paul: Big bad Brad stamps his territory on Eden Park

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Brad Thorn of the All Blacks celebrates victory. Photo / Getty Images
Brad Thorn of the All Blacks celebrates victory. Photo / Getty Images

Cometh the hour cometh Brad Thorn. Big bad Brad - welcome back. You have been missed. Angry Brad storming all over Eden Park like it was his private estate - what a sight. Fired up Brad smashing into things that buckled in his wake - magnificent.

There we were wondering, carrying this little bit of doubt that the All Black veteran might have hit empty, and then he erupts. Extinct? Nope, he'd just been lying dormant and of all the heroic figures to emerge from the semi-final, his resurrection was maybe the most heart-warming.

The All Black scrum was a vicious beast of a thing. Owen Franks and Tony Woodcock were in the mood. Really in the mood. But behind them the horse power came from Thorn. No one would have wanted to be tangled in the All Black machinery when it was operating like that. Stick a hand in there and you could lose. Certainly whenever the Wallabies stuck the ball in there they lost it and was there a more inspiring moment than Thorn roaring the crowd on after a huge black wave had engulfed the Wallabies.

Who didn't know then that the job was all but done?

Who didn't have just a little premature moment that the World Cup was not only here - it would be staying here?

What must the Wallabies - a seriously brave and enterprising Wallabies at that - have thought when they saw the All Black lock - his forearms as big as roast hams - pumping into the Auckland night?

The weight of an entire nation could have been carried by Thorn right there. As iconic moments go - that was the one everyone will remember.

That said Thorn wasn't saying goodbye to his All Black career without having played in a World Cup final. It also said he was ready for more.

The job's not done. Whatever France produced on Saturday night can be ignored. It all starts again on Sunday at 9pm and the pool game; the semi-final; the quarter-final of 2007; the final of 1987 - none of that matters.

Thorn knows that. He's been around forever and yet age hasn't yet caught him. Big bad Brad's got one monster effort left in him. The old warrior has come alive if he ever died. He's been waiting for the right moment to deliver and be sure - he delivered and be sure he's going to deliver again on Sunday.

The French are a fearsome scrummaging unit. The French have an impressive lineout that doesn't miss a beat and the French see rugby as war.

That's kind of how Thorn likes it. Big games are his go too and they don't get any bigger than World Cup finals.

There really couldn't be a more fitting way for such an incredible career to end than a World Cup final; a World Cup title.

The All Blacks have their Thorn back in their side. They are going to draw blood.

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Gregor Paul

Gregor Paul is the Herald on Sunday's rugby writer

Gregor Paul is the Herald on Sunday's rugby writer. He has written several books on rugby including the Reign of King Henry, Black Obsession and For the Love of the Game.

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