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Refreshed Thorn eyes second-row berth
ESPNscrum Staff
August 2, 2011
Brad Thorn offers some direction in training, New Zealand training, University Oval, Dunedin, July 18, 2011
Thorn will hope to add to his 50 All Blacks caps against Australia on Saturday © Getty Images
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Second-row enforcer Brad Thorn is fit and raring to go ahead of Saturday's clash with the Wallabies despite playing in a long Super Rugby season.

Thorn and the Crusaders made it as far as the Super Rugby final but, with earthquake damage to their home ground and then a semi-final in South Africa, they had to do rack up the air miles to get there. Along with fellow Crusaders Kieran Read and Owen Franks, and Blues skipper Keven Mealamu, he was given a breather before joining the Test squad.

All four are expected to feature when the All Black side is named on Thursday to face the Wallabies in a Tri-Nations blockbuster in Auckland this weekend.

Thorn, 36, said he "pretty excited" to be back in the selection frame again and in line for his 51st cap. "I've had a bit of a rest and a break and feel mentally fresh, and physically as well," Thorn said.

He admitted that it been "a bit weird" to follow the All Blacks on TV rather than to be out there with them. "Watching the All Black team run out to play was a different experience, but in future I'll be doing it all the time," Thorn, who heads to Japan after the World Cup, added with a smile.

He was also upbeat about the prospect of coming up against the Wallabies again. The Bledisloe Cup was something he had grown up watching as a little kid and he was looking forward to another chance to compete for the giant piece of silverware.

There was also plenty of eager anticipation about locking the scrum again with Ali Williams, who made a comeback to the All Blacks last month after missing the past two international seasons with injury. "It's been a wonderful story," Thorn said. "He's a good friend of mine. It would be great to wear a black jersey with him again."

While Williams had been absent from Test rugby for a significant stretch, some things hadn't changed on his return. "He's still a cheeky rascal," Thorn said. "He's a lot of fun. He's a very passionate New Zealander and very passionate about the black jersey."

As for whether the Crusaders' loss in the Super Rugby title decider would provide Thorn with added motivation against the Wallabies, he said it was never fun to lose a grand final. However, the Queensland Reds had played well and deserved their success, although falling just short at the end of a long season did hurt.

"There was a good week after that final where I was pretty disappointed," Thorn said. "We pretty much put everything on the line for that. It wasn't just about the team, it was about the whole province, the city and what had happened."

"It was tough for me but it was cool when I went shopping or did something, I had people coming up and say, `Really appreciate what you guys did'. It made me feel a little better."

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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