Kieran Read: poorhouse to penthouse
November 14, 2013
Kieran Read is probably the best No.8 in the world today © Getty Images
2009 All Blacks Monopoly Values
Kieran Read has come a long way from the player ranked last on an All Blacks' Monopoly board, and it was appropriate that he was in Kensington when acknowledging his progress.
Read's status among the world's premier rugby players is obvious in the English media this week, with a host of articles hailing his impact in New Zealand's unbeaten season. And Read is relaxed enough ahead of the Test against England at Twickenham on Saturday to accept his growing importance for the world champions.
"I want to have influence," he said. "Every time I go out on the field I want to hopefully be that man who is the influence in the game and can hopefully make that big play or whatever is needed."
A charity All Blacks edition of the Monopoly board game launched in 2009 didn't rank Read so favourably. The players were allocated streets based on their perceived importance, with Richie McCaw and Mils Muliaina occupying the wealthy blue squares of Mayfair and Park Lane respectively.
The poorest brown squares were given to reserve fly-half Stephen Donald and Read, a relative squad newcomer who was allotted the cheapest of the 22 streets: Old Kent Road.
Kieran Read has moved up in the rugby world from Old Kent Road since 2009 © Getty Images
"I've improved I think, certainly," Read said at the team hotel in Kensington. "I feel like I've grown my game a little bit more and maybe the way we're playing is showcasing that."
Read has been employed regularly out wide this year, with his speed and athleticism making him difficult to contain. But such a role is achievable only if flankers McCaw and Liam Messam perform their core jobs further infield, Read says.
That loose-forward combination - the oldest for New Zealand since Zinzan Brooke, Michael Jones and Mike Brewer played together 18 years ago - has become the heartbeat of the All Blacks' playing style.
"As a trio, it's about making sure you have influence across the park as much as possible and being around the ball all the time," Read said.
Read crossed out wide for his 14th Test try in the win over France in Paris last Saturday, when he played his 59th Test to move one ahead of Brooke and within three of Rodney So'oialo, the most capped All Blacks No.8 in the position and the man he replaced in the back-row.