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Read returns to Super Rugby

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All Blacks captain Kieran Read set for long-awaited return to rugby against Hurricanes

All Blacks captain Kieran Read will make his long-awaited return to rugby this weekend after being named to start for the Crusaders against the Hurricanes at Westpac Stadium in Wellington.

It will be the All Blacks skipper’s first appearance in four months after being granted extended leave by New Zealand Rugby as they look to preserve their key players ahead of their World Cup title defence in Japan later this year.

Read’s last strapped on the boots for the All Blacks against Italy in November last year, and his return to the Crusaders comes after the reigning Super Rugby champions welcomed back captain Sam Whitelock into their side for the first time in 2019.

“Can’t wait, ” Read told Stuff of his impending return to the playing field.

“I feel like I’m in as good¬†nick as I’ve been in my career. It was the aim this year, it’s what the off-season was about.

“I’m very thankful to have had the time. Right now, it’s time to get out there and do it on the field.”

Read’s inclusion at No. 8 pushes Whetukamokamo Douglas into blindside flanker, with uncapped All Black Jordan Taufua moving onto the bench in place of Tom Sanders, who has been ruled out with a dislocated shoulder he sustained in the Crusaders’ 20-12 loss to the Waratahs last week.

Read’s All Blacks teammates Scott Barrett and Richie Mo’unga have also been named for the Kiwi derby after being given a week off, but experienced props Joe Moody (ankle) and Owen Franks (shoulder) have been ruled out.

They will join fellow All Blacks front rower and Hurricanes captain Dane Coles on the sideline, who misses out on the clash with a minor calf strain.

Instead, Ricky Riccitelli will start for a second week in a row, and will join blindside flanker Vaea Fifita in making their 50th Hurricanes appearances in doing so.

All Blacks TJ Perenara, Ngani Laumape and Asafo Aumua are all named in the match-day squad after missing last week’s 34-28 win over the Stormers, while Jordie Barrett reverts back to right wing from the midfield to replace the benched yet in-form Wes Goosen.

Hurricanes: 1. Fraser Armstrong, 2. Ricky Riccitelli, 3. Ben May, 4. James Blackwell, 5. Liam Mitchell, 6. Vaea Fifita, 7. Ardie Savea, 8. Reed Prinsep, 9. TJ Perenara, 10. Beauden Barrett, 11. Ben Lam, 12. Ngani Laumape, 13. Matt Proctor, 14. Jordie Barrett, 15. Chase Tiatia

Reserves: 16. Asafo Aumua, 17. Chris Eves, 18. Jeffery Toomaga-Allen, 19. Isaia Walker-Leawere, 20. Du’Plessis Kirifi, 21. Richard Judd, 22. Jackson Garden-Bachop, 23. Wes Goosen

Crusaders: 1. Harry Allen, 2. Codie Taylor, 3. Michael Alaalatoa, 4. Scott Barrett, 5. Sam Whitelock, 6. Whetukamokamo Douglas, 7. Matt Todd, 8. Kieran Read, 9. Bryn Hall, 10. Richie Mo’unga, 11. George Bridge, 12. Ryan Crotty, 13. Jack Goodhue, 14. Braydon Ennor, 15. David Havili

Reserves: 16. Andrew Makalio, 17. George Bower, 18. Oli Jager, 19. Quinten Strange, 20. Jordan Taufua, 21. Mitchell Drummond, 22. Brett Cameron, 23. Will Jordan

France chasing high-profile Kiwi coaches for 2023 World Cup:

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All Blacks captain Kieran Read set for long-awaited return to rugby against Hurricanes