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Read: I'm at my best

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Read: I'm better than I have been all year

All Blacks captain Kieran Read believes that he has been in better form during the November tour than any other time this season.

Read underwent major back surgery in December last year and only returned to the field for the All Blacks in August. His play had been criticised following the All Blacks’ loss to Ireland.

“I felt it was fairly good,” Read told NZME in regards to his performance against Ireland.

“It was fairly strong and I think I have operated the best I have all year on this tour. It was one of those games where it was hard to get going because it ended up being a bit if a stop-start affair.

“But I am feeling like I am putting some form out on the field now so that is nice.”

Read finished the match with a pack-high 17 tackles, but also conceded a turnover and two penalties.

He currently ranks as the world’s best Number Eight according to the RugbyPass Index.

Read said the backlash from critics hasn’t affected the team, and understands that dealing with criticism is part of the job.

“It is natural,” Read told NZME. “You lose in this black jersey and you know it is coming.

“And to be honest, what you are feeling is so much worse than what anyone could be writing about you.

“When you lose in the All Blacks jersey, no matter who it is against, it hurts and it stays with you.”

Read also said that the way Ireland dictated the pace of the match was a point of frustration for his side.

“If we look at last week the Irish were able to do that, control the tempo of the game, and they were able to go down with an injury break at almost every stoppage and then it slows the tempo down and affects your momentum and doesn’t let you get into the game,” he said.

“They dictated that. It is all a scoreboard thing. You can do that when you are in front. It is important in the context of big games to get the scoreboard in your favour as soon as you can.

“Teams don’t do that to you if you are in front because they want to chase the game. That’s what teams are seeing and maybe they have a ploy to halt our momentum.”

Read and the All Blacks will finish their 2018 campaign when they meet Italy in Rome this weekend.

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Read: I'm better than I have been all year