Kieran Read

Former All Blacks skipper urges Australian sides to step up

Governing body SANZAAR has confirmed the 12-team tournament would kick off in 2022, bringing Pacific islands teams into the southern hemisphere provincial competition for the first time.

New Zealand's teams won 23 of 25 games against their Australian opponents in Super Rugby Trans-Tasman in May and June, underlining the gulf between the nations' rugby programmes.

"I think if you look across the board at the competition next year, you're going to probably look at a 90%, 80% win rate for New Zealand teams," Read told Sky Sport.

Ex-All Blacks captain retires from rugby

The 35-year-old broke the news he would retire at the end of the season before Toyota Verblitz's semi-final against Panasonic Wild Knights in Japan's Top League on Saturday.

But Verblitz lost 48-21, ending their campaign and Read's career.

"I'm looking forward to returning to New Zealand and spending time with my family," said Read, the third most-capped player in All Blacks history.

The number eight made 127 Test appearances for the All Blacks and was named captain in 2016 following Richie McCaw's retirement.

Kieran Read joins Counties Manukau for Mitre 10 Cup

Read, who hails from the South Auckland region and played his junior rugby with the Drury club, retired from the international game after last year's World Cup.

The 128-test All Black then signed on with Toyota Verblitz in Japan's Top League. He will play another season there in 2021 but before returning overseas has agreed to terms with the Steelers - a team he supported growing up.

"While I played a lot of my representative rugby in Christchurch, my roots will always be in Counties Manukau," the former Rosehill College student said.

Former All Blacks captain Kieran Read eyes Mitre 10 Cup return

Read, who is contracted with Toyota Verblitz, is back in New Zealand after the Japanese Top League season was suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

With the next Japanese season not kicking off until January 2021, Read is interested in playing in the 2020  Mitre 10 Cup season, which is due to start on September 11.

Read has played 37 games for Canterbury in the domestic competition, although in his last contract with New Zealand Rugby he was aligned with Counties Manukau, where he grew up. 

Read fit for England – Hansen

Influential skipper Read was absent from the All Blacks' training session on Tuesday to spark fears over his availability for the mouth-watering showdown in Yokohama.

However, Hansen says Read was nursing a sore calf that New Zealand did not want to exacerbate in wet conditions.

"There is no issue. You didn't see him train because he was in the gym on the bike," Hansen said. 

"He got a tight calf from the game the other day and we didn't want to put him out on a wet track."

Pressed on if Read will face England, Hansen replied: "Yeah, 100 per cent."

Captain Kieran Read upbeat after injury struggles

The 33-year-old underwent back surgery late last year, and was out of action until late June for the Crusaders, and did not play a test for the All Blacks until the Rugby Championship in August.

The number eight was far from his best when he returned which led to plenty of criticism, with coach Steve Hansen forced to defend his captain on numerous occasions saying any negative comments were unwarranted and ridiculous.

Read and Coles likely to miss French series

Read underwent back surgery following the All Blacks' end of year tour to Europe after a protruding disc was causing leg pain while Coles ruptured knee ligaments.

"I don't think he'll (Read) be back until after the French series but that's not a fait accompli at this point," Hansen told NZME.

"We'll just take our time and as I said about a month ago, he knows his body and we can't afford to come back too early and damage it again and miss another six months and maybe even miss the World Cup.

"We'll just take it one day at a time and one week at a time."

Read to miss start of Super Rugby

 

Read sat out the All Blacks' final game of the year against Wales last month due to the back injury.

The 32-year-old said on social media that he'll undergo surgery this Saturday and will miss the start of the Super Rugby season.

The expected recovery time for such injuries is four months.

The Crusaders' first game of the season is against the Chiefs in late February.

 

Photo caption Kieran Read 

     

Fit-again Read and Ioane to start against Lions

Read has not played since April due a broken thumb, but the All Blacks skipper has recovered in time to feature against Warren Gatland's men in Auckland.

Ardie Savea drops to the bench to accommodate Read at number eight, while Ioane gets his first start on the left wing as Julian Savea misses out completely.

Centre Ryan Crotty also returns from injury to take his place in Steve Hansen's team, so Anton Lienert-Brown is among the replacements for the opening Test of three.

All Blacks confident over Read

Read has not played since breaking a thumb in April, having spent much of 2017 recuperating from wrist surgery.

The skipper is unlikely to play any part in the All Blacks' practice match against Samoa on Friday as plans for the first Test in a fortnight at Eden Park draw into sharp focus.

But having seen Read's predecessor Richie McCaw have huge impacts on previous series with similarly low-key preparation, Hansen has no concerns.

"Our last skipper used to be able to do it, and this one's got similar mental fortitude and strength of character," Hansen said.