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Thorn, who arrived at Queenstown airport yesterday afternoon to join his new team-mates on a trek up the Greenstone Valley, was excited to be back in an area he had plenty to do with as a boy.
''I'm excited, you know. It's interesting ... just coming back where everything kicked off for me as a kid. So it's pretty special really. I'm looking forward to it.''
Thorn was born in Mosgiel and moved to Bannockburn as a 5-year-old. He was educated in Cromwell, before the family moved to Brisbane when he was 9.
The rest is history. Thorn's glittering career includes four rugby league premierships with the Brisbane Broncos, an NPC title and a Super 15 title with Canterbury and the Crusaders respectively, a Rugby World Cup and several Tri Nations trophies and Bledisloe Cups with the All Blacks, and last year a Heineken Cup title with Irish club Leinster.
Thorn, who will celebrate his 38th birthday next Sunday, says he still has fuel in the tank for a season with Highlanders coach Jamie Joseph.
''I had 17 years where I was stressed about trying to achieve my goals. My father played for Otago as a schoolboy. That was something special. For me to come back here, this is something I wanted to do. To come back and represent where I was from.''
Thorn insists he has no plans to slow down or relax in 2013.
''It's going to challenge me. How my body holds up. Testing myself; have I still got it? Can I still mix it?
''I'll take the season, I'll see how I go. There's a part of me that wouldn't mind going back to Europe for a season or two. We will see what happens.''