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Former All Blacks captain Kieran Read reveals COVID-19 scare in Japan

By Sam Smith
(Photo by Atsushi Tomura/Getty Images)

Former All Blacks captain Kieran Read has revealed he contracted COVID-19 while playing for Toyota Verblitz in Japan’s Top League.


In what was the final chapter of his career, Read joined Toyota following New Zealand’s unsuccessful 2019 World Cup campaign on a two-year deal, which expired last week, bringing the end to his illustrious playing days.

His time in Japan wasn’t all rosy, though, as the 35-year-old told Newstalk ZB that he had a minor case of the virus while Toyota endured an outbreak among its playing squad.

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“My club went through Covid – I had it,” Read, who is currently undergoing a two-week quarantine period in a managed isolation facility in Auckland, said.

“We had a few weeks of isolation. It wasn’t too bad there was a day or so of feeling pretty bad and upset then I came good. Half our team got it and it went round quite a few of the clubs so they postponed the season.

“It was quite strange, you would expect us all to have the same strain but we didn’t know what it was. Some guys lost taste and smell; some had fevers, some were quite mild, some guys it lasted for a week or so, it depended on the person. I was fine after a couple of days.”

The former 127-test loose forward added he believed that the Japanese public want the upcoming Tokyo Olympics to go ahead, despite many calls for the cancellation of the Games amid the pandemic.


“The Japanese people are very compliant. I wore a mask for six months, everywhere I went, everyone does that,” Read, whose Toyota side was eliminated from the Top League semi-finals by the Panasonic Wild Knights last Saturday, said.

Rugby sevens is planned to feature again after making its Olympics debut at Rio 2016, where the Fiji men’s and Australia women’s sides ran out as gold medallists.

It was the first time since Paris 1924 that any form of rugby had been played at an Olympic Games.

Read, meanwhile, said he is excited to resume his family life in New Zealand once his quarantine period has been completed.


“I’m looking forward to returning to New Zealand and spending time with my family.”


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