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Adam Thomson returns to Otago after seven-year absence

By Online Editors
Adam Thomson in action for Otago in 2009. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)

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Former All Blacks loose forward Adam Thomson returned to New Zealand provincial rugby for the first time in seven years after joining the Otago squad on a training basis.


Rumours had been circulating of a potential comeback to the Mitre 10 Cup for a couple of weeks after Thomson played club rugby for Takapuna in the North Harbour premier competition.

A report from Stuff three weeks ago in the wake of his appearance at Onewa Domain stated that it understood that the 37-year-old was expected to sign a deal with North Harbour, but a report released by the Otago Daily Times just over a week ago revealed that Otago were in talks with bringing their former star man back to the province he has played 54 times for.

It now appears Otago have won the race for Thomson’s services, as the 29-test World Cup-winner has linked up with his former side to train with them less than a fortnight out from their season-opener against Bay of Plenty on August 11.

While there is no confirmation of a contract being signed by Thomson for this year’s Mitre 10 Cup campaign, he could still be added to Otago’s under-manned playing squad.

Head coach Ben Herring named a 28-man squad last month, but said another few players will be added to that group, especially with the likely absences of All Blacks Ben Smith, Liam Coltman and Josh Ioane.


As it stands, Dylan Nel, James Lentjes, Slade McDowall, Joketani Koroi and Sione Misiloi are the only loose forwards that have been named in the Otago squad.

Thomson’s presence in a Mitre 10 Cup alone marks an exceptional comeback to professional rugby, after the ex-Highlander, Melbourne Rebel and Queensland Red was left hospitalised in Tokyo for 57 days between late 2017 and early 2018 with lumbar discitis, a painful spinal which left him unable to walk.

View this post on Instagram

It was touch and go for a while there and we almost had to amputate but to the credit of this crack Japanese medical team they were able to save the moustache. ? ??????? But in all seriousness it's been a tough week full of unexpected challenges. It's going to be a long road to get back on my feet but I'm up for it. I'm overwhelmed by all the love and support from friends and family all over the planet, words can't express what it means, I didn't expect such a big response. I'm humbled and my thanks and love go back to you all! ??????? Here's a little Xmas cheer from my hospital bed in Tokyo, give all your loved ones an extra big hug this year, don't take anything for granted! Merry Christmas x ?????

A post shared by Adam Thomson (@adamjohnthomson) on

He was diagnosed with the condition while under contract with Top League club Canon Eagles, and hasn’t played professionally since then.


In April, Thomson signed a contract with the Utah Warriors in the Major League Rugby competition in the United States, but visa issues have put his deal, which extended through until the end of the 2020 season, on hold.

After defeating Thames Valley and North Otago in back-to-back Ranfurly Shield clashes over the past three weeks, Otago play their final pre-season match on Friday against Tasman in Nelson.

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Adam Thomson returns to Otago after seven-year absence