Super Rugby

Read will turn out for Crusaders against Chiefs




All Blacks captain Kieran Read has confirmed that he will return to Super Rugby earlier than expected for the Crusaders and play against the Chiefs this weekend.

The All Black number eight was expected to take the first two weeks of Super Rugby off but he has had a change of hear and wants to start early.

Read added that he had made his decision to play this week before the Crusaders were beaten 74-7 by the Hurricanes in last week’s pre-season match.

“I’ve been training really well and the body is feeling great and the mind was kind of willing,” Read told Newshub.

“Two months ago I was certainly going to miss a few games and have that break, but the way I’ve been training I feel a lot better advanced than I thought I was going to be.”

Even though Read will return to playing for the Crusaders earlier than expected Sam Whitelock will still captain the side in the first two matches.

Crusaders coach Todd Blackadder has rejected suggestions that bringing Read in early is a “knee-jerk reaction” to the heavy loss to the Hurricanes.

“We talked about it about three weeks ago that he was going to come back for this game,” said Blackadder.

“It’s not a knee-jerk reaction, it’s just nice to have him involved.

“I’m just really pleased he’s hungry and wants to play. It’s a really good message.

“He’s just such a class player he commands respect straight away.”

Read’s early return is a big boost for the Crusaders as they have been hit in their loose forward depth as Matt Todd is still a week away from returning from a calf injury.

Many coaches would be bordering on panic if their team had been beaten by 67 points a week before a tournament started but Blackadder is focusing on the positives.

“There was a real silver lining to that, we got taught a real lesson and we just spent all (Monday) correcting that.

“We just had one of those days when it was a green wicket and we were bowled out for 75, but it was a really good lesson.

“A little bit of humiliation doesn’t hurt, it really grounds you. I felt all up until last week that we were well on track and it was one of those days where nothing went our way.

“It hasn’t really influenced any of our thinking this week, rather than the hunger and it’s probably refocused our preparation.”

The Crusaders played three warm up matches this season and in their first they beat the Reds 31-3 and then drew 19-19 with the Highlanders before playing the Hurricanes.

The Crusaders start the season with three home matches before a bye in Round 4.

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