Rugby: Never seen drug-taking in either code

Veteran Highlanders lock Brad Thorn says he has never seen any evidence of illegal drug-taking during his lengthy stints in both rugby codes.

After the Australian Crime Commission released its report into sport last week, the focus has gone on to the big sporting codes in Australia and how they handle their affairs.

Thorn, who has played league for Australia and rugby for the All Blacks, said he had not been keeping a close watch on what the commission had said, but during his time with the Brisbane Broncos league team, he never saw anything related to drug-taking.

''You would see the guys taking those protein shakes or taking their supplements but you never saw any drugs or that stuff,'' he said.

''I am sure it could happen and probably has by the sound of it. Whenever you have guys out there trying to achieve stuff, they will go outside the boundaries to get where they want to get.''

Thorn, who turned 38 earlier this month, said he had never been interested in using drugs to boost his game or lengthen his career and did not even take supplements.

''I suppose I'm a bit from the old school. I think you just have to have a well-balanced diet.

''But it might be easier for me as naturally I'm a reasonably strong sort of guy.

''Maybe other people feel they needed to improve in that area and decided to go and do something else. Hopefully, it is not too big a thing. But it sounds like it has really blown up over there.''

Thorn, who has played at the top level for 18 years, has been regularly tested and said it was not the most pleasant experience of his sporting career.

''I've been hammered. I must have been tested 100 times. It's not much fun, to be honest. But it is just part of life and you have to get on with it.''

He believed taking a quick blood sample may be an easier way to carry out a drug test, than having to give a urine sample.

Thorn said for some reason he was picked out a lot to be tested after a game.

The big lock was enjoying spending time in Wanaka this week with the Highlanders and had his family with him. He had fitted in well with his new team and training was going well.

''There are a few new things so it is a little bit different. Every time you go to a new team there is something different. It stimulates you, refreshes you. But rugby is rugby. I'm a tighthead lock whose role is to get out there and get among it.''

Thorn's right calf tightened up at training yesterday morning in Wanaka and he is doubtful for tomorrow's game at Queenstown against the Blues.

The Highlanders will name their team today but the Blues will field a near full-strength team for what is the final warm-up game for both teams.

All Black halfback Piri Weepu makes his first appearance of the season with former Highlander Chris Noakes outside him.

Ali Williams will captain the side with All Black Charlie Faumuina making his first start at tighthead prop and exciting youngster Charles Piutau returning from injury to line up at fullback.


Blues team
To play Highlanders
Charles Piutau, Frank Halai, Rene Ranger, Francis Saili, George Moala, Chris Noakes, Piri Weepu, Peter Saili, Luke Braid, Steven Luatua, Ali Williams (captain), Culum Retallick, Charlie Faumuina, James Parsons, Tom McCartney. Reserves: Quentin MacDonald, Angus Ta'avao, Ofa Tu'ungafasi, Liaki Moli, Ronald Raaymakers, Sean Polwart, Kane Barrett, Joe Edwards, Bryn Hall, Jackson Willison, Baden Kerr, Marty McKenzie, Pita Ahki.