All Blacks captain Kieran Read finally back training with Crusaders
Last updated 17:40, May 14 2018
All Blacks captain Kieran Read, centre, hasn’t played any rugby since leading his country to a 22-17 win over the Scotland in Edinburgh on November 18.
Kieran Read is back training with the Crusaders.
The All Blacks captain and No 8 won’t be available for Super Rugby prior to the test window in June, and isn’t expected to play France when they tour New Zealand, but the sight of him in his footy gear was at least something to warm the soul as the Crusaders had a light run on a gloomy day in Christchurch on Monday.
Since undergoing surgery on his spine to alleviate pain in his leg in mid-December, Read had previously worked behind closed doors to concentrate on his recovery.
KAI SCHWOERER/GETTY IMAGES
Read works out during a New Zealand All Blacks gym session in March.
“I think it was a nice surprise for everybody,” Crusaders assistant backs coach Ronan O’Gara said in reference to the return of Read, who had initially hoped to be back playing by mid-April. Today was a walk-through, clarity (session). I think there is a plan with Razor (coach Scott Robertson) and the medical team about how much he can partake, but it’s just great to have him back at the club.”
Read, 32, has not played rugby since leading the All Blacks to a 22-17 win over Scotland in Edinburgh in November. He was in so much discomfort following that match he couldn’t play the tour finale against Wales a week later, with Crusaders team-mate Sam Whitelock captaining the team in his absence.
Read has not played rugby since leading the All Blacks to a 22-17 win over Scotland in November.
It would be unwise to get too hyped about the sight of Read, who has played 109 tests, back in his kit but this, at least, seems like a step in the right direction.
Spinal surgery doesn’t always provide a quick solution to athletes’ woes, and All Blacks coach Steve Hansen and Robertson have both warned it would be unwise to put a definitive date on the No 8’s return.
“I think it is a very slow-burner at this stage,” O’Gara confirmed. “There is a plan in place, and with long-term injuries the plan obviously has to be pretty flexible. I think it (the sight of Read) did give all the boys a bit of a lift, and he had one or two points (to make) which is always valuable information.
“I don’t know if he touched a ball, it was walking speed today.”
The Crusaders, who will play the Blues in Auckland on Saturday night, also had a couple of other injured All Blacks on deck. Lock Luke Romano, who suffered a high ankle sprain in late April, took part in a light game of touch and fullback/wing Israel Dagg, who hurt his right knee against the Brumbies on April 28, has made a swift recovery.
O’Gara said Romano would need to be given more time to get fit, and it was too early to say whether Dagg could be considered to play the Blues.
Loosehead prop Tim Perry, who damaged a hamstring against the Brumbies, should be available for selection which is timely given All Blacks team-mate Joe Moody was suspended for two weeks for striking Kurtley Beale in the 31-29 win over the Waratahs last Saturday night.
The Crusaders can also consider tighthead prop Owen Franks and midfielder Ryan Crotty to play the Blues – both were rested from the Waratahs game – while wing Manasa Mataele will have to pass an HIA test on Thursday.
Once again the Crusaders have found themselves discussing their discipline. They conceded four yellow cards in their previous games against the Rebels and Brumbies, and now Moody is serving a ban.
“We are in control of all these situations, we have to make sure that we are squeaky clean in these issues,” O’Gara said. “And I think there is a discipline that comes with that … We need to get better at it.”
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