Ardie Savea’s continued excellence has raised the prospect of an All Black loose forward combination featuring himself, Kieran Read and Sam Cane, but skipper Read, while happy to shift if required, says he would be happier at No 8 rather than blindside flanker.
As Read put the finishing touches on his team’s preparations for his first test of the year, a crunch match against the Springboks in Wellington tomorrow, he was asked about a possible move.
“I’ll do whatever for this team but right now it’s at No 8,” he said. “I’m excited to be playing there; it’s a role I want to be playing so we’ll see what happens later in the year, but I’m just excited to be on the track for the first time this year in the black jersey.”
Asked if such a move would be difficult, he replied: “For myself it would be simple. I could switch anywhere, to be honest, in this team. When you gain experience and time in the jersey it’s not too hard to do that.
“I really enjoy playing No 8. That’s where I see myself and get the best out of myself so I can’t wait for that tomorrow.”
Read is one of six Crusaders who slot into the pack after sitting out last week’s test against the Pumas and with the clock ticking down to the World Cup – there are only four tests remaining – he is not surprisingly eager to get his test year under way.
“Most of the guys who had that week off are really fizzing and excited. The bodies are in good nick and to be in this position of the season and knowing there’s actually not much footy left before that World Cup; for us we know we have to put it on the line this week.”
The All Blacks famously lost their test against the Boks in Wellington last year and there will be a big onus on Richie Mo’unga and Beauden Barrett in particular to make the right decisions at Westpac Stadium in order to start and finish well.
“There are always lessons that can be learned from last year and that comes back to I guess our own approach, our mental approach. The guys who played in that game will certainly be feeling it again. It’s nice to have in the back of your minds but it’s a new year and new opportunity to play for your country.
“I’m looking forward to it,” Read said of Crusaders teammate Mo’unga and Beauden Barrett starting together. “It’s been great at training through the week having those guys there. There is a lot of direction around the part with those two guys there so if they can give us that it would be awesome. Obviously they’re great attacking players so it’s a pretty dangerous side.”
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