Home' Greymouth Star : August 15th 2014 Contents Greymouth Star
10 - Friday, August 15, 2014
of the New Zealand Herald
Warriors halfback Shaun Johnson
is adamant he has made a full
recovery from his groin injury and
is feeling good ahead of his return
in Sunday’s away clash with the
Johnson ran freely at team
training yesterday and said his
three-game lay-off ensured he
regained full fitness ahead of the
business end of the year, with
just four rounds remaining in the
regular season. “ I’m 100% certain.
I feel good. A couple weeks back I
thought I was good, (but) I went in
and aggravated it straight away.
“O bviously we’ve got some pretty
big games coming up and I didn’t
want to go out on the field and
only last five minutes and have no
confidence in what I was doing, so
it was about getting it right, and
not just for the game but for long-
term as well.
“ Today out there, I tested it in
every way I could and I didn’t
feel it at all so, touch wood, but
we’ve got one more session to get
through and then it ’s game time.”
Coach Andrew McFadden
reiterated Johnson’s positive
outlook and said he could have
been called upon for last Sunday ’s
match against Cronulla but was
given the extra week off as an
“He looked great, Shaun. He’s
100% so we’re very happy he’s back
in the side,” McFadden said.
“I ’m confident. At a pinch
we could have played him last
weekend. He’s done all the work,
he’s done all the rehab, and he’s
ticked all the boxes. He’s ready to
Johnson will not be taking the
goal-kicking duties off halves
partner Chad Townsend, who
has missed just four of 11 shots
in three matches against Manly,
Canberra and Cronulla.
“I haven’t thought about it too
much (goal kicking). I won’t do
it this weekend. Chaddy’s been
hitting them pretty good so there’s
no reason to take him off it,” he
He is ready to resume kicking
in general play, however, and is
hopeful of improving the Warriors’
set completions after noticing the
lack of accuracy and consistency
in that department against the
“That ’s one of the biggest aspects
of my position, our last plays, and
I certainly wouldn’t be playing if I
couldn’t kick the ball,” he said.
“O ur set finishes, especially in
that second half on the weekend
and even today at training, we
didn’t do them well.
“That area is a key focus for us
and we need to get that right if we
want to build any sort of pressure
on any side. I probably saw the real
importance of that watching from
His return coincides with Thomas
Leuluai’s first start in the No 9
jersey, after filling in admirably at
No 7 in Johnson’s absence. Nathan
Friend is sure to make his presence
felt coming off the bench but
Johnson is confident the change
will be a positive one.
“ I hope he (Leuluai) makes my
job easier. He’s played a lot of
hooker and is a very experienced
player. I know the boys like having
him out on the field so he’ ll
control the ruck really nicely for
The 14th-placed Knights may
well be out of the race for a spot in
the top eight but Johnson insists
they will prove tough opponents
at home on the back of Saturday
night’s inspiring last-minute
victory over Melbourne.
“(They have) a lot of pride to play
for and we saw what they did last
week against the Storm so we’re
in no position to think we can go
over there and it’ll be ‘job done’
before we get there. We’ve just
got to put our best foot for ward,
prepare right and show the right
‘If you ever find yourself in
the wrong story, leave.”
So said American children’s
author Mo Willems. I’m sure
Brad Thorn agrees.
Brad Thorn is gone. He has
left the building, exited stage
left, pulled off the Portuguese
fade, dropped a smoke bomb;
he has simply disappeared.
As ever there was no fanfare,
no epic send-off, and no real
goodbye. He just packed his
bags and jumped on a plane
bound for Heathrow. His
services no longer required. At
least, not here.
The Highlanders wanted
him to stay as a strength-and-
conditioning coach, a role he
assumed this year alongside his
playing duties for the southern
franchise, but Brad Thorn
wanted to play. He wanted
one more season. He wanted
to turn 40 running around
Forsyth Barr Stadium. He
wanted to finish it all where it
Highlanders have opted for
youth — they already have a
number of good prospects, including the
very impressive Tom Franklin — and that
is understandable, but has Super Rugby
become so commoditised, so focused on
the next generation that there is no longer
any room for fairytale finishes?
I feel a Boromir meme coming: “One
does not simply let Brad Thorn walk away.”
It would be naive to suggest that Thorn
can cheat time forever. Just ask Corey
Flynn about that. But just one more
season? Who wouldn’t want to see that?
Who wouldn’t want, for just one more
time, to watch Big Bad Brad marauding
about the mauls and patrolling the rucks
and getting his head stuck in places you
wouldn’t tell your kids about? I know I
Maybe I’m romanticising the whole
thing. After all, in the cut-and-thrust
world of professional rugby there is scant
room for sentimentality.
Good team men are regularly cast aside,
their respective omissions barely rating
a mention in the week’s dispatches. They
simply pass their use-by dates. Easy come,
easy go. And look at this new kid!
I don’t blame the Highlanders for
“moving on” as one team insider so bluntly
put it. This is a side that reaped the
benefits of advancing its region’s youth this
season and that investment could well pay
further dividends next year. One would
assume, too, that Thorn’s departure frees up
a certain amount of cap to strengthen that
investment. All hail the accountants.
But no amount of wage saving will
compensate for the tears in the eyes of a
giant as he stands in the morning mists of
Mosgiel and speaks of his family
ties with the Taieri Eels, of how
his father’s shadow ever lengthens
across the frosted fields of Peter
Johnstone Park, of how the
watchmaker became man-maker.
And what new recruit will come
carrying a treasure chest of 20
seasons of pro ball? Of grand
finals and World Cup finals? Of
Heineken Cup finals and Super
Rugby finals? What new recruit
will know of the sacrifice and the
dedication, of the unwavering will
to win, of the discovery of self
and of faith and the time spent
searching for the soul and the
Who will those new recruits
emulate on the training pitch or in
the gym? Will they be told tales of
that deep, rasping, booming gargle
of a voice as it counted out the
reps, or will they simply forget that
once Thorn walked these halls and
stalked these fields and pumped
his fists in delight when the referee
called time on a Highlanders win?
I hope they don’t forget. I hope the
fans don’t forget either.
Thorn is on the phone in
Mosgiel. He is busy packing his
bags. I wonder how he took the
news when he was told he would
not get to play out his career in
front of his people. Surely he must have
been upset? He may be a colossus of two
codes, but trust me, the man can sure get
“I just took it like a man,” was his
response. And with that we said goodbye.
Nothing fancy. Stay in touch and all that.
It would have been completely
understandable if Thorn just quit, if he just
called time on a career that has left him
with nothing more to prove. But that is
not in his DNA.
It has always been easier for others to
quit on Thorn. It has been impossible for
Brad Thorn to quit on himself.
So this story’s ending is all wrong.
Someone’s replaced the final paragraph.
There is no fairytale here. But there is, and
always will be, a legend. — NZ Herald
Newcastle star Darius Boyd has
checked out of a Sydney mental
health facility following treatment
for depression but will not play
again this NRL season.
The Knights confirmed yesterday
that the Queensland State of
Origin winger was released from
the facility after being admitted
three weeks ago.
“ Darius Boyd has completed
his rehabilitation programme for
depression in a Sydney mental
health facility,” a statement from
the Knights read.
“ Boyd won’t return to playing this
season as he continues to focus on
“ Boyd wishes to thank the club,
his team-mates and the fans for
their support at this time.”
Boyd is off contract at the Knights
and, with his long-term mentor
Wayne Bennett to return to coach
Brisbane next season, speculation
is rife the 204-game two-time
premiership winner will move back
north with him.
The Knights said in the statement
Boyd was yet to make a decision on
where he would play next year.
of the New Zealand Herald
It was not exactly the rollicking start to
the ITM Cup that fans and the bigwigs
at New Zealand Rugby were seeking.
The swirling wind and rain around
New Plymouth’s Yarrow Stadium put
paid to that. But in the final analysis,
Taranaki and Counties Manukau shared
the spoils in this tryless, 9-9 Premiership
Taranaki first five Marty McKenzie
landed a 79th minute penalty to tie it up
after the Steelers’ replacement first five
Baden Kerr landed a booming penalty
goal from about 47m to give Counties
Manukau the lead, against the run of
play, with six minutes to go. Referee Nick
Briant pinged Taranaki sub Leighton
Price on what looked to be another of
those 50-50 breakdown calls.
Taranaki had started to wear the
Steelers down with field position and
set-piece pressure in the second stanza.
No 8 Blade Thomson carried with
vigour and was the standout player of
the match. Replacement Sione Lea
came closest to scoring the first try of
the season after he plunged over but the
TMO ruled it was inconclusive.
The Steelers’ potentially exciting
backline was largely unemployed,
though second five Bundee Aki did
make a couple of promising forays. Their
set-piece was iffy, at best.
The first spell was a stop-start affair,
both teams making myriad errors in the
dewy conditions. The highlights were
two booming touch-finders by Taranaki
halfback Jamison Gibson-Park, a
shimmy by centre Charlie Ngatai,
which should have yielded a try, and
some muscular work by the ‘Naki pack,
in particular lock James Broadhurst,
No 8 Thomson and flanker Berny Hall.
The only points came from the boot of
fullback Codey Rei.
Counties Manukau had more ball
but could get little going, and were not
helped by the absence of co-captain Tim
Nanai-Williams, who was awaiting the
birth of his first child.
Neither side could command clean
lineout ball and so there was little in
the way of stable platforms off which to
Taranaki will now travel to Hawke’s
Bay next Friday night, while the Steelers
defend the Ranfurly Shield against
Otago on August 23.
Tonight ’s Championship game sees
Southland hosting Bay of Plenty in
Taranaki (Codey Rei 2 pen, Marty
McKenzie pen) Counties Manukau
(Baden Kerr 2 pen, Ahsee Tuala pen)
HT: 6-0 Taranaki. — APNZ
Boyd out of rehab, season over
ITM CUP RUGBY
Taranaki, Counties Manukau share spoils
‘Big Bad Brad’ misses
PICTURE: Getty Images
Brad Thorn, is a veteran of 20 seasons of pro football.
All Blacks centre Conrad Smith
has returned to New Zealand to be
with his wife Lee-Ann for the birth
of their baby.
Smith’s return will rule him out
of tomorrow ’s Bledisloe Cup clash
at ANZ Stadium. It will probably
result in Malakai Fekitoa moving
from the reserves bench to partner
Ma’a Nonu in the midfield for
easily the biggest test of his career.
Crusaders midfielder Ryan Crotty
has been called into the squad as
Fekitoa, 22, who had a
blockbusting season with the
Highlanders, played his first test
in June when coming on as a
substitute against England at Eden
Park and made his first start in
his second test a fortnight later in
Hamilton, impressing in the All
Blacks’ convincing victory.
Smith’s departure will rob the All
Blacks of a defensive rock and a
huge amount of experience as his
side look to break the world record
for consecutive test wins for a top
tier nation. The 32-year-old has
played 77 tests. — APNZ
West Coast basketball results.—
GHS Tawa 70 (K Wilkins 26,
J Stenhouse 20, A Gardner 12,
S Molloy, K Campbell, T Henry
4) beat GHS Rata 31 (T Beirne
11, B Wilson 8, B Williams 5, G
Henry, M Johnson, K Rissman 2, H
GHS Heat 52 (I Stratford 12,
W Clarke 11, C Gurden 8, R
Lancaster 7, J Morgan 6, O Rose, S
Hanright 4) beat GHS girls 40 (A
Peterson, I Rijnsoever 10, T Beirne
9, J Stenhouse 8, K Wilkins 2, B
JPII Angels 22 (A Rees 8, C
Whata 6, E Gauley 4, B Connell, C
Vaughan 2) beat GHS Pounamu 8
(T Bourke 4, J Trevathan, B Smith
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