Brad Thorn may link with the Highlanders to play one last season of rugby, back in the province where it all started.
Thorn, who will be 38 in February, is believed to have met Highlanders coach Jamie Joseph in Japan last month and agreed to play for the Dunedin-based franchise next year.
Joseph and Highlanders general manager Roger Clark could not be contacted yesterday but the signature of the big lock will be a huge boost for the side.
Although he is closer to 40 than 30, Thorn, who was born in Mosgiel, has played at the top level for 18 years, in rugby and league, and has won almost everything in both forms of the game.
Along with new addition Tony Woodcock, the All Black prop, and experienced All Black hooker Andrew Hore, the Highlanders' forward pack will have a look of steel about it.
Thorn last played in this country for the All Blacks at last year's World Cup, being a key man for the home side as it won the tournament.
He then left for Japan on a two-year deal to play for the Fukuoka Sanix Blues. That contract will finish around late February, just in time to play for the Highlanders.
Thorn may be in the veteran stage and old enough to play golden oldies rugby, but he is a consummate professional and his training habits and discipline would be a great asset for the Highlanders.
Early this year, Thorn signed a three-month contract with Irish club Leinster and won the Heineken Cup.
Thorn may be coming to a New Zealand side from Japan, but it is believed Ma'a Nonu is going the other way. Nonu has yet to confirm what side he will play for next year but there is a strong chance he may now head overseas.
The Highlanders were keen to land Nonu but that appears unlikely now.
- Otago Daily TimesBy Steve Hepburn