Read’s game of pa­tience

The Press - - Sport -

All Blacks cap­tain Kieran Read has ten­ta­tively pro­moted July as the month for his long-awaited come­back fol­low­ing surgery on his spine.

Al­though the 32 year old, who this week be­gan train­ing with the Cru­saders for the first time this sea­son, con­firmed he has zero chance of rep­re­sent­ing the All Blacks against France next month he was up­beat about the progress he has made since go­ing un­der the knife in mid-De­cem­ber.

‘‘There is no time-frame on it [his re­turn], hope­fully in July some time. It could be ear­lier, it could be later,’’ Read said.

‘‘It is just about tick­ing mile­stones off, and this is one. It has been a long time since I have been on the field, ac­tu­ally run­ning around prop­erly. I still have a lot to do.’’

The good news is Read has not been both­ered by pain dur­ing, or after, train­ings. He has been in­tro­duced to some wrestling ex­er­cises, been lift­ing and jump­ing in li­ne­outs and hopes to start con­tact ses­sions in a few weeks. Yes­ter­day he was able to run at full pace be­fore the phys­io­ther­a­pists asked him to with­draw and do gym work in­stead.

The dis­cec­tomy op­er­a­tion has the po­ten­tial to add sev­eral years to his ca­reer, some­thing that will be of huge re­lief to the All Blacks se­lec­tors as they plot the de­fence of the Webb El­lis Cup in Ja­pan next year.

‘‘The disc bulges onto the spinal cord, so I had that scraped away,’’ Read ex­plained. ‘‘Ob­vi­ously the nerves had been dam­aged and the nerves went down into my leg and I had the pain. It [the op­er­a­tion] al­le­vi­ated all that, and then it just takes time for it to heal. Nerves gen­er­ally take six to 12 months – so I have just got to be pa­tient with it.’’ All Blacks coach Steve Hansen, who will re­veal his 33-man squad on Sun­day, is ex­pected to Kieran Read

name Sam White­lock as his cap­tain for the se­ries against the French but has re­mained in close con­tact with Read.

With 109 test caps to his name, the lat­ter has put body through the wringer since start­ing his pro­fes­sional rugby ca­reer with the Cru­saders in 2007 and al­though mid-April was ear­lier men­tioned as when he would make his come­back to Su­per Rugby, he was sat­is­fied with progress. ‘‘It is a six-month in­jury, re­ally, from post-surgery,’’ Read added.

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