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'What am I doing': Former All Black opens up about retirement U-turn

By Finn Morton
(Photo by Paul Kane/Getty Images)

When the Western Force named their team to play the Melbourne Rebels in the opening round of Super Rugby Pacific, there was one position that was yet to be confirmed.


Little did rugby fans know that the biggest surprise of the round – both in stature and popularity – would be made the Force ahead of kick-off.

Former All Blacks second-rower Jeremy Thrush came out of retirement to don the No. 19 jersey for the round one clash in Perth on Saturday, following an injury crisis within the Force squad.

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The 37-year-old answered coach Simon Cron’s call to play for the Force following injuries to Izack Rodda and Ryan McCauley.

The Western Force confirmed last May that Thrush was set to retire alongside Super Rugby veterans Richard Kahui and Greg Holmes.

Following on from his surprising appearance last weekend, Thrush opened up about his “interesting week and a half.”

“I was pretty settled with my decision to step away from the game at the end of last year, and I could pursue a coaching career with the Force and the Academy,” Thrush told reporters on Tuesday.


“I was reasonably happy with that decision.

“It’s been a pretty interesting week and a half.”

Thrush played more than 10 Test matches in the coveted black jersey, but rose to legendary status throughout a decorated career with the Hurricanes.

But after signing with the Western Force in 2018, and playing a big role in their return to Super Rugby, Thrush became a legend in Perth as well.


The lock said he knew retired players who would “die for” the opportunity to play for the Force again. Thrush couldn’t pass the opportunity – if not just for himself, then for those other players.

“I was always going to miss the game, the game day and playing in the competition,” he added.

“All the stuff in between the Friday or Saturday nights was always what was a bit of a battle.

“I kind of know it’s not for a long time, it’s a short contract that’s going on at the moment.


“Just got to enjoy it, just enjoy feeling the way you do and knowing that hopefully maybe I get another chance to put on the Force jersey and have another crack.

“The realisation of coming to it is that I’ve met a lot of great people through the Force, guys that can’t play for them any more with injuries or whatever.

“I knew that if they had that same decision they’d probably die for it, they’ll do anything to have that chance to put the jersey on again.”

Thrush came on as a late replacement for the Force, but the script couldn’t have been written any better.

With the match in the balance, the Western Force needed a hero – and Jeremey Thrush answered the call.

The towering second-rower crashed over for what ended up being the match winning try with less than 10 minutes to play, as the hosts recorded a 34-27 win.

“I was pretty buggered and my nose was bleeding pretty bad.

“It was maybe five minutes before that when I went down with a stinge in my neck and I was on my knee and thinking, ‘What am I doing?’

“You get out there and you put the boots on and you cross that line, I found it pretty enjoyable to be out there.”

The Western Force will look to extend their winning start to the season to two matches this weekend when they take on the Queensland Reds in Melbourne.

Every team is set to ply their trade in Melbourne this weekend, as the competition heads to AAMI Park for Super Round.


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