AP NEWS

All Blacks captain Kieran Read to play 1st match in 2019

March 27, 2019

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — New Zealand All Blacks captain Kieran Read will make his first appearance in this World Cup season when he starts for the Christchurch-based Crusaders against the Wellington-based Hurricanes in Super Rugby on Friday.

Read missed the first six rounds of the tournament to ensure he is fully rested as he prepares to lead New Zealand’s bid to win the World Cup for the third time in a row.

Though he has been in full training for around three weeks, it was thought Read might make his return gradually from the bench but he has been drafted straight into the starting lineup.

“I was probably all good to play two weeks ago,” Read said. “But you want to make sure you’ve got enough conditioning under the belt.

“So those little niggles that happen in pre-season do set you back. If you can’t be out there training with the (team) for a week, it kind of sets you back a couple weeks.”

Read has regularly been a late starter for the Crusaders, missing the first seven rounds of the 2017 season and not playing until after the June test break last year. He has still accumulated 145 matches over 13 years for the nine-time Super Rugby champions.

This is his last year in Super Rugby before he takes up a club contract in Japan.

___

More AP sports: https://apnews.com/apf-sports and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports