Kieran Read has revealed he underwent unprecedented treatment in order to be ready for the key matches of the 2011 Rugby World Cup – and was not even allowed to tell his head coach.
The former captain was unavailable during the All Blacks‘ opening three matches in the 2011 tournament due to torn ligaments in his left ankle, which he suffered two weeks prior to their Cup opener.
Read had spent time in the pool at the Waitakere Aquatic Centre and on a grinder to keep fit.
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However, he recounts in his autobiography Straight Eight how he underwent secret treatment on his ankle in order to speed up his recovery.
Helped by the then-team doctor Deb Robinson, Read received platelet therapy.
“There was little else I could do to keep in shape, but there was one other thing that Doctor Deb was keen to try. It was called platelet-rich plasma (PRP) therapy, which involved being injected with a concentrated dose of my own platelets to help speed up the recovery process,” Read writes.
“It was a completely legal procedure but none of the All Blacks had ever tried it.”
Read was sworn to secrecy, and most notably, could not mention a word to Sir Graham Henry, who was coach of the All Blacks at the time.
“Deb simply said, ‘Don’t tell anyone, least of all Ted, because he’ll end up telling the media’.
“Deb asked if I was happy to give it a go and I was 100 per cent on board. So it was that twice a week I was a real-life Secret Steve, heading over to North Shore Hospital to have my blood taken out and the platelets injected back into my ankle.
“I kind of enjoyed the whole clandestine nature of it all.”
Read, then the reigning New Zealand Rugby Player of the Year, remained on schedule throughout his spell on the sidelines and, with the help of the then-innovative treatment, made a timely return against Canada to round out the All Blacks pool stage.
He started at number eight for New Zealand’s final four matches, including all three knockout ties, and scored a try in the quarter-final win against Argentina on the way to helping the All Blacks break their World Cup drought in famous fashion.
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