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Super Rugby - Highlanders
Thorn, Ellison look to return in 2013
July 11, 2013
The Highlanders' Brad Thorn is tackled by the Cheetahs, Highlanders v Cheetahs, Super Rugby, Rugby Park Stadium, Invercargill, March 9, 2013
Brad Thorn wants to go round again despite having played a "crazy amount" of rugby © Getty Images
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Dual international Brad Thorn hopes to play Super Rugby for the Highlanders again next year at the age of 39. Thorn, who has played rugby league for Australia and rugby union for New Zealand, told Fairfax Media in New Zealand that he hoped to finalise a contract with the Dunedin-based Highlanders over the next few days, saying he was "keen to play some more footy".

"I feel pretty good, but I just need a break," Thorn said. He said he had played a "crazy amount" of footy over the past two-and-a-half years, including Rugby World Cup 2011, and needed a break to regain his enthusiasm.

Japan-bound Tamati Ellison may also be back in Highlanders colours next year, as the four-Test All Blacks centre's contract to return to the Ricoh club after two seasons with the Highlanders includes a clause allowing him to play Super Rugby.

The New Zealand Rugby board must approve him to return as players who return to New Zealand while contracted to an overseas club must meet certain criteria to be accepted under the new employment collective contract. Those criteria stipulate that players must have played either 80 Super Rugby matches or 60 Tests, but Ellison has played only 76 Super Rugby games after missing the first eight rounds this season while he recovered from shoulder surgery. The board will discuss the proposal in August.

Thorn and Japan scrum-half Fumiaki Tanaka were the Highlanders' overseas players this year after having been approved by the New Zealand union.

Ellison said he was keen to return to the franchise if his case was approved. "The Japanese competition finishes about the time the Super 15 starts so, in terms of timing, it works out," he said. "We just have to sort out a few contractual things. I've missed half the season this year so I'm still feeling pretty fresh."

Ellison was the Highlanders' outstanding back in 2012, and he has been in excellent form this season since returning from injury. The Highlanders will welcome his return as they have lost wings Hosea Gear to France and Kade Poki to Japan.

© AAP with Sportal
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