Leinster have lined up Brad Thorn as a potential solution to their issues at second row. I understand they have already sounded out the IRFU about the chances of bringing the World Cup winner in on a short term deal. No official approach has been made because they would have to secure his release from Japan first.
Thorn is currently playing there for Fukoaka Sanix Blues but their league season wraps up next week – when the All Black will celebrate his 37th birthday – leaving him free to give Leinster a dig out for a few months if the club agree.
Leinster’s cover at second row is currently a bit thin after the curtain finally came down on the Steven Sykes saga this week. He returned to South Africa on Monday without the fanfare that had greeted his arrival last summer. For a variety of reasons his recruitment was a disaster – playing just four games.
Add in Leo Cullen’s surgery for his ongoing Achilles trouble and suddenly the European champions are one injury away from a crisis. Consider that they never replaced Nathan Hines – well, they tried, with Sykes – and with Cullen out of the frame until close to the Heineken Cup knockouts, providing he rehabs successfully, it changes the heart of their pack.
That leaves Damien Browne as their only tight head lock, with Devin Toner beside him, and Kevin McLoughlin offering an option that Joe Schmidt doesn’t use very often. Mark Flanagan is coming through well from the Academy but he too is a loose head scrummager, and at 6’3” Ciaran Ruddock is short of inches.
Adding Thorn to the equation would change the complexion of things, and he could be added to the ERC roster as an extra player. He was the go-to man for the ABs for much of his 59 cap career, the prototype grunt who provided the physical presence that is the building block for any successful pack.
Thorn was hugely popular with the Aussie league fans, where he carved out his first and hugely successful career with the Brisbane Broncos, and their Kiwi counterparts when he moved back to New Zealand and the Crusaders.
His generous post-match interviews after losing the Super 15 final to the Queensland Reds last season explain why people have so much time for him. Let’s see if Leinster can have more luck with this project.