Thorn stresses ELV adaptation

All Blacks lock Brad Thorn believes that forwards will soon have to shape up if they wish to survive under the ELVs.

Thorn, who returned to rugby union this year after a stint in rugby league, feels the ELVs have forced players to raise their fitness levels and that the trend is to select more mobile forwards.

“I’ve just come from rugby league and the same thing has happened there, the bigger guys find it harder. With the ELVs, there is definitely a fitness element, so it’s going to be interesting to see how, over the next five to 10 years, things develop,” Thorn told keo.co.za.

“The last time I played rugby union, I was about 118kgs. This time I’ve come back and kept myself around 114kgs and I’ve found that’s been a real bonus for my fitness levels. There’s no point going out on the park carrying anything extra.

“You obviously need to have the strength element and the size for scrummaging and other areas but you still have to be able to get around the pitch.”

With Bakkies Botha ruled out for the remainder of the Tri-Nations, some have suggested the Springboks might lose a great deal of physicality. However, Thorn and Ali Williams believe the Springboks will lose nothing with the inclusion of Andries Bekker.

Both Thorn and his lock partner, Williams, heaped praise on him ahead of the Test at Newlands on Saturday.

“Bakkies brings a physical element to the game, but they [the Springboks] have brought in an absolute monster who is playing on his home ground and I’m sure it’s going to be a big moment for him,” said Thorn. “I think he’s a real talent. I’ve been really impressed with him.”

Williams echoed his teammate’s view. “We all know what Bakkies can do, but I think Bekker is a special athlete. Given a bit more time, he could become another South African world-class lock.

Meanwhile, Thorn admitted he had no remorse for the role he played in ending Bok capatin John Smit’s Tri-Nations campaign.

“I regret that it cost my team three points and that I was suspended for a week, but thats footy,” said Thorn.

By Andrew Worling