Rugby-World Cup winner Thorn to return to rugby at 41

SYDNEY, Sept 22 (Reuters) - Rugby World Cup winner Brad Thorn is expected to make his return to top-class rugby at the age of 41 on Saturday after he was named in the Queensland Country squad to play in Australia's National Rugby Championship. New Zealand-born Thorn ended his international rugby career after the All Blacks won the 2011 World Cup, but continued to play for Irish side Leinster, the Otago Highlanders and then English club Leicester Tigers until last year. Thorn never officially retired and when he joined the Queensland Reds as an assistant coach for the Super Rugby side late last year, he hinted he would be keen to participate in the 2016 competition if needed. He did not play for the Reds but became a player-coach under former Wallabies loose forward Toutai Kefu for Queensland Country in Australia's third tier competition and was named in the squad for Saturday's clash against Western Sydney Rams. "It's great to welcome a player of Brad Thorn's calibre into the team," Kefu said in a statement on Thursday about Thorn's selection to the replacements' bench. "He has been excellent in his role as assistant coach and the players are all really looking forward to having the chance to play alongside him." Thorn earned 59 test caps for the All Blacks but also spent eight years with the Brisbane Broncos in Australia's National Rugby League and played 200 matches for the side. He also played for the Australia national rugby league side. (Reporting by Greg Stutchbury in Wellington; Editing by John O'Brien)