Kieran Read

Former All Blacks skipper urges Australian sides to step up

Governing body SANZAAR has confirmed the 12-team tournament would kick off in 2022, bringing Pacific islands teams into the southern hemisphere provincial competition for the first time.

New Zealand's teams won 23 of 25 games against their Australian opponents in Super Rugby Trans-Tasman in May and June, underlining the gulf between the nations' rugby programmes.

"I think if you look across the board at the competition next year, you're going to probably look at a 90%, 80% win rate for New Zealand teams," Read told Sky Sport.

Ex-All Blacks captain retires from rugby

The 35-year-old broke the news he would retire at the end of the season before Toyota Verblitz's semi-final against Panasonic Wild Knights in Japan's Top League on Saturday.

But Verblitz lost 48-21, ending their campaign and Read's career.

"I'm looking forward to returning to New Zealand and spending time with my family," said Read, the third most-capped player in All Blacks history.

The number eight made 127 Test appearances for the All Blacks and was named captain in 2016 following Richie McCaw's retirement.

Kieran Read joins Counties Manukau for Mitre 10 Cup

Read, who hails from the South Auckland region and played his junior rugby with the Drury club, retired from the international game after last year's World Cup.

The 128-test All Black then signed on with Toyota Verblitz in Japan's Top League. He will play another season there in 2021 but before returning overseas has agreed to terms with the Steelers - a team he supported growing up.

"While I played a lot of my representative rugby in Christchurch, my roots will always be in Counties Manukau," the former Rosehill College student said.

Former All Blacks captain Kieran Read eyes Mitre 10 Cup return

Read, who is contracted with Toyota Verblitz, is back in New Zealand after the Japanese Top League season was suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

With the next Japanese season not kicking off until January 2021, Read is interested in playing in the 2020  Mitre 10 Cup season, which is due to start on September 11.

Read has played 37 games for Canterbury in the domestic competition, although in his last contract with New Zealand Rugby he was aligned with Counties Manukau, where he grew up. 

Read fit for England – Hansen

Influential skipper Read was absent from the All Blacks' training session on Tuesday to spark fears over his availability for the mouth-watering showdown in Yokohama.

However, Hansen says Read was nursing a sore calf that New Zealand did not want to exacerbate in wet conditions.

"There is no issue. You didn't see him train because he was in the gym on the bike," Hansen said. 

"He got a tight calf from the game the other day and we didn't want to put him out on a wet track."

Pressed on if Read will face England, Hansen replied: "Yeah, 100 per cent."

Captain Kieran Read upbeat after injury struggles

The 33-year-old underwent back surgery late last year, and was out of action until late June for the Crusaders, and did not play a test for the All Blacks until the Rugby Championship in August.

The number eight was far from his best when he returned which led to plenty of criticism, with coach Steve Hansen forced to defend his captain on numerous occasions saying any negative comments were unwarranted and ridiculous.

Read returns to the Crusade

Read had surgery late last year to correct a bulging disc in his back that was causing chronic leg pain.

Read, who trained with the All Blacks in June and made himself a "pain in the butt" according to coach Steve Hansen, played a warm-up match for provincial side Counties-Manukau last week and is now ready to step up to Super Rugby level.

He will start at number eight for the clash at Rugby League Park, which has been temporarily renamed "Wyatt Crockett Stadium" in honour of the loosehead prop, who will play his 200th Super Rugby match on Friday.

Read ready for a return

Read has not played since the surgery to correct a bulging disc that was causing leg pain and Hansen had said earlier there was no rush in bringing him back until he was fully fit.

The number eight, however, has been in camp with the All Blacks for their three-match series against France and Hansen said his role at training had been to replicate the French loose forwards' play and put pressure on the world champions.

Read and Coles likely to miss French series

Read underwent back surgery following the All Blacks' end of year tour to Europe after a protruding disc was causing leg pain while Coles ruptured knee ligaments.

"I don't think he'll (Read) be back until after the French series but that's not a fait accompli at this point," Hansen told NZME.

"We'll just take our time and as I said about a month ago, he knows his body and we can't afford to come back too early and damage it again and miss another six months and maybe even miss the World Cup.

"We'll just take it one day at a time and one week at a time."

Read to miss start of Super Rugby

 

Read sat out the All Blacks' final game of the year against Wales last month due to the back injury.

The 32-year-old said on social media that he'll undergo surgery this Saturday and will miss the start of the Super Rugby season.

The expected recovery time for such injuries is four months.

The Crusaders' first game of the season is against the Chiefs in late February.

 

Photo caption Kieran Read