Fit-again Read does what All Blacks captains do...
ALL BLACKS coach Steve Hansen praised captain Kieran Read’s outstanding performance that led to his side’s 30-15 victory over the British and Irish Lions in the first Test at Eden Park yesterday.
Read had barely played this season after undergoing surgeries on his wrist and a broken thumb.
Playing his first match in almost eight weeks, the 31-year-old No 8 was superb in all aspects of the highly competitive game, taking the ball into contact, making massive tackles and leading the side around the field.
“The bloke to my left here was outstanding,” Hansen told reporters as he nodded towards Read at the news conference.
“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 added he thought the Lions were incredibly difficult to put away, particularly as they regained some of the momentum just before halftime with Sean O’Brien’s length of the field try.
“It was a true test out there. It took us about 60 min- utes before we managed to string together some opportunities and finish them off,” Read said. “In that first half it was really intense. Test rugby takes a bit of time to wear teams down and when you get those opportunities you have to do that. We had to work hard for that, I guess momentum changed a few times in that game and we had to scramble really well and take our opportunities.”
All Blacks vice-captain Ben Smith and centre Ryan Crotty are injury concerns for the rest of the series against the British and Irish Lions after they came off during the 30-15 victory in the first test at Eden Park on Saturday.
Fullback Smith failed a head injury assessment during the first half, while Crotty limped off later in the spell with a hamstring injury and will definitely miss next week’s test in Wellington, coach Steve Hansen said.
“Ben Smith failed a concussion test and he will go through the protocols,” Hansen told reporters. “Ryan Crotty has pulled his hammy, so we already had Jack Goodhue in as a replacement to help him out with his ribs.
“Jack will be staying with us, and we will try to get Ryan ready maybe for the last test if we’re lucky.”
Hansen said earlier yesterday that hooker Dane Coles had been ruled out of the series due to fitness issues after he had been unable to train since March with knee and calf injuries and then concussion symptoms. – Reuters