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'Great to have him back' - Aaron Mauger beams over return of Brad Thorn for Highlanders, Reds clash

Highlanders coach Aaron Mauger is relishing coming up against his former teammate Brad Thorn, with the Reds in town for Friday's Super Rugby clash in Dunedin.

Having played together for both the All Blacks and Crusaders, Mauger and Thorn are now opposites in the coaching ranks, both into their second seasons with the Highlanders and Reds respectively.

With Mauger this week hosting Thorn, the 38-year old spoke of his delight at having his old teammate back in Dunedin.

"I'm looking forward to catching up with Thorny later on," Mauger began.

"It's great to have him back in New Zealand."

"He's obviously contributed a lot to New Zealand rugby, and now he's plying his trade with the Reds. I'm sure they'll be well prepared, and he'll be looking forward to the week as well."

Mauger also says that he isn't expecting an easy go of it against the Reds, with Thorn's strengths as a player apparent in his coaching style.

"You can see in the Reds' performances over the last year how much that reflects Thorny - and how he played the game and his mindset towards the game.

"He's really transformed them. They've turned into a really tough team to play against, they compete very hard at everything. That was Thorny's style of play, and I'm sure he's transferred that into his coaching philosophy.

"We expect them to be on for 80 minutes, they're a team that don't give up. There's plenty of guts and grit in their side."

The former teammates will square off as coaches this weekend. Source: 1 NEWS