Not bad for a father of four who's blown out 34 birthday candles. Fairly sharp for a latecomer to rugby union who has yo-yoed across the Tasman and between codes for the last decade.

It's not known whether Brad Carnegie Thorn was named after the American lecturer who developed courses on self-improvement but the All Black lock's career continues to progress.

Which is just as well for a side without the injured Ali Williams and Anthony Boric, given that Jason Eaton and Ross Filipo are on the outer and Isaac Ross and Bryn Evans are being nurtured into international careers.

Thorn is a machine. He has a huge motor, a massive ticker and inexhaustible supplies of willpower, which was just as well for the All Blacks as they stared down a series defeat against France in Wellington.

It was a foul night on Saturday, with horizontal driving rain and descending temperatures. It was a night when he would usually be at home tending to his kids.

Instead Thorn was minding his rugby troops, challenging them to emulate his deeds, demanding they drag all their energy into squaring the series with the French.

It was a match for forwards who rolled up their sleeves and hoed into their arm-wrestle work at scrums, lineouts, rucks and mauls.

Plenty of work from men like Thorn, who will soon overhaul the legendary Sean Fitzpatrick on the list of oldest All Blacks. Ahead are tight forwards like Gary Knight, Andy Haden, Colin Meads, Tane Norton, Richard Loe and John Ashworth - a list which suggests Thorn might make the next World Cup.

That is in the future. On Saturday the pack hoed into it but the All Blacks had only a slender lead at the start of the last quarter when the warning lights went on full alert.

Cedric Heymans, who had scored a wonderful try from halfway round the globe rather than the end of the earth, cross-kicked and fellow-wing Vincent Clerc looked as though he must score from the All Blacks' defensive mess.

But as Clerc went to cross the line, Thorn came from nowhere to clobber him, the ball spilled free and danger was averted. It was a matchsaver.

There were a few anxious moments to follow, but nothing to match Thorn's desperate hit as the All Blacks made most of the late threats in the test before signing off a 14-10 victory. They shared the series but lost the Dave Gallaher Cup on points differential.

What mattered was that they put a "W" into their results sheet after the casualty at Carisbrook.

Coach Graham Henry spoke about conditions which made the game a lottery with his All Blacks fortunate enough to win the jackpot.

Forwards coach Steve Hansen was especially complimentary of blindside flanker Jerome Kaino, who had not played for five weeks because of a knee ligament problem. He had helped new No 8 Kieran Read and opensider Tanerau Latimer to form an effective looseforward trio.

Thorn grabbed Crusaders mate Isaac Ross and hounded him into work, then Bryn Evans when he came on. Tony Woodcock nailed the scrums, Keven Mealamu was a magic nuisance all night, his darting runs and workrate pestering the French while Neemia Tialata still had some scrum issues but got round the park far more.

It was not so classy behind the pack. Laboured passes from Jimmy Cowan did not help, Stephen Donald was a mix and Joe Rokocoko's handling and lack of speed showed.

Hansen lauded tight forwards Thorn, Woodcock and Mealamu, the older troops who had delivered.

"They came to the party to allow the youngsters to tag along and enjoy the occasion."