James Mortimer 02.Jan.2013
Thorburn was the first coach of the North Harbour Rugby team when it was launched in 1985, and prior to this had coached club rugby for years as well as registering 40 games for Auckland.
Coaching North Harbour for six years from 1985 until 1991, the forthright coach, known as an innovator who wasn’t afraid to take bold decisions, made the team a force after making the jump up the NPC’s three divisions.
In the early nighties Thorburn coached the All Blacks Sevens, the New Zealand Colts, as well as academy and divisional teams. In 1995 Thorburn was the NZ Commissioner for Super Rugby before again coaching Harbour in 1997.
He would also serve as All Blacks selector, during the Laurie Mains and Wayne Smith eras, while he would also spend time in the North, coaching Bristol as well as the United States.
He told the New Zealand Herald the honour was unexpected.
"You don't really look for these things," he said.
"I felt chuffed about it but you don't do what you do to get these sort of accolades. I suppose I was just surprised and quite pleased."