Former All Black Thrush returns to retirement after Super Rugby SOS
Thrush retired at the end of last season, but he made a shock return to the field in round one after answering an SOS call from Force coach Simon Cron.
The 38-year-old’s return has been etched into Force folklore with Thrush scoring the winning try in a 34-27 win over the Melbourne Rebels.
Such was his impact Thrush was even elevated to the stand-in captaincy role for the round-three win over Moana.
But it proved to be his final appearance with a painful heel injury ending his chances of adding more matches to his tally.
“I’d love to pull Thrushy back but I think I may have used up every resource that he had in terms of body,” Cron said ahead of Saturday night’s crunch clash with the Highlanders in Perth.
“After those games, his heel was really bad and he needed a cortisone injection.
“He was like, ‘Cronno, I think I’ve done my service’, which he had as he was filling a spot for us when we were really light on in those lock positions.
“I’d love to have him playing but unfortunately his body has probably had it.”
The Force welcome back captain Michael Wells (Achilles), flyhalf Bryce Hegarty (back) and winger Toni Pulu (knee) this week, but hooker Folau Fainga’a is still battling an Achilles tendon injury that has sidelined him for several weeks.
“It’s hard because it’s an ongoing Achilles,” Cron said.
“I know he ran well (on Wednesday), so there’s light at the end of that tunnel for him.”
Scrumhalf Gareth Simpson is expected to miss another two weeks with a quad strain while star Wallabies lock Izack Rodda is yet to return from the foot injury that grounded him on the eve of the season.
Flyhalf Jake Strachan will miss at least four weeks with concussion.
The Force sit in 11th spot with a 2-5 record at the halfway point of the season.
Cron said the Force learnt valuable lessons from their 43-35 loss to the Highlanders in NZ on March 19 and are hoping to turn the tables in Saturday’s rematch.
“Gain line was our message in that game,” Cron said.
“We only made three dominant tackles against the Highlanders last time and then the next week against the Blues we made 19 or 20.
“So all we did there was change the speed off the line, putting pressure on them and making contact. Against the Highlanders, we sat on our heels.”
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