Kieran Read

CAPS 100

NZ Rugby World - - Outside Influences -

In an­other year, Kieran Read will most likely be sit­ting in the top 10 of this list. By the end of 2019, who knows, he could be in the top five.

He has plenty left to do, but that doesn’t mean he hasn’t done plenty al­ready.

In July this year he en­tered an elite club of play­ers who have won 100 test caps for the All Blacks. Only the best of the best can do that and reach­ing that land­mark in it­self il­lus­trates his tal­ent, com­mit­ment, dura­bil­ity and men­tal tenac­ity.

To have reached 100 test caps is proof in it­self that Read has had sig­nif­i­cant in­flu­ence within the All Blacks since he broke in to be­come a test reg­u­lar in 2009.

He stands, even with time left on the clock, as the best No 8 in All Blacks his­tory. Zin­zan Brooke may have had more out­ra­geous ball skills. Brian Lo­chore was a more cere­bral op­er­a­tor and Buck Shelford may have been a more rugged war­rior. But while Read doesn’t top the list in these cat­e­gories, he’d be a close sec­ond in each.

He is a bril­liant ball player as he’s shown with so many freak­ish passes and o oads over the years. It was his pass o the ground that broke open the first test against the Bri­tish & Ir­ish Lions in 2017.

His pass­ing game and all-round cre­ativ­ity is high. Ex­cep­tion­ally high. As is his tac­ti­cal acu­men and game man­age­ment. Much of Read’s in­flu­ence comes from his an­tic­i­pa­tion and abil­ity to be in the right place and do the right thing.

And while he hasn’t em­u­lated Shelford by play­ing with a ripped tes­ti­cle, he did get through 75 min­utes of the 2015 World Cup fi­nal with a badly dam­aged an­kle. And in that same first test against the Lions this year, he came into the game hav­ing not played for eight weeks and was man of the match.

“The bloke to my left here was out­stand­ing,” Hansen said of Read af­ter that game. “He might be a bit grumpy with me be­cause he played 75 min­utes, which wasn’t too bad af­ter seven weeks’ hol­i­day.

“To be the All Blacks cap­tain you have to have a lot of char­ac­ter and courage and be a fierce war­rior. Richie [McCaw] showed that over a num­ber of years, pre­vi­ous cap­tains have done that and now it’s Reado’s turn.

“There was no hes­i­ta­tion to ask him to step up and play be­cause that’s what All Blacks cap­tains do.”

Read’s in­flu­ence is not just de­fined by what he brings as a No 8 with an in­cred­i­ble breadth of skills. His legacy is now be­ing added to by the role he plays as cap­tain.

He had the un­en­vi­able task of suc­ceed­ing the great­est leader in All Blacks – rugby – his­tory. It wasn’t easy to take over lead­er­ship of the team from McCaw. For 10 years McCaw had been at the helm and the team had a dis­tinct cul­ture, a def­i­nite way of do­ing things and op­er­at­ing un­der their long-serv­ing cap­tain.

It could have been daunt­ing for Read as­sum­ing the reins. But as much as he re­spected McCaw and learned plenty from him, Read came into the job in 2016 with a clear plan to be him­self and not sim­ply try to per­se­vere with all that had gone be­fore.

Play­ers all say that the cul­ture is now more in­clu­sive. That Read has the abil­ity to re­late to ev­ery­one in the team re­gard­less of back­ground or ex­pe­ri­ence and a greater num­ber of voices are mak­ing greater con­tri­bu­tions.

“I learnt a lot from Richie” said Read. “When I first came in I looked up to him af­ter watch­ing him on TV then you be­come peers and grow to­gether.

“It was a re­ally good time but from now I want to be my own per­son. I can’t try em­u­late what he’s done. I’ve just got to be Kieran Read. I’ve got sub­tle di er­ences to him – I’ve cer­tainly got to play as well as he did on the field and lead through my ac­tions.

“I like grow­ing peo­ple and try to get that in­di­vid­ual touch with a lot of the lads to get as much out of them as I can. That’s how I like to lead.”


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