21 Apr 2011

All Black lock to head to Japan

8:44 am on 21 April 2011

All Black lock Brad Thorn is to leave New Zealand rugby for Japan after the Rugby World Cup.

The 36-year-old has signed a two-year deal with the Japanese club Sanix Blues.

The former Brisbane Broncos and Australian rugby league player made his Super Rugby debut for the Crusaders in 2001.

Thorn was first selected for the All Blacks the same year but withdrew from the team to decide on his sporting future.

After taking a year off from sport, he returned to the rugby and was again selected for the All Blacks in 2003.

He then had a second stint in rugby league from 2005 to 2007 before returning to the All Blacks in 2008 and has been a mainstay of the forward pack since then, having played 50 tests.

Coach Graham Henry said in a statement that Thorn was "one of a kind, a special man and a special All Black."

"He is a tower of strength to the All Blacks and New Zealand rugby and is the ultimate professional," the statement said.

Prop John Afoa and winger Sitiveni Sivivatu have also said they will leave New Zealand after the World Cup.