Concussion rules Read out of first Test
Tom Hamilton in Auckland
June 3, 2014
Kieran Read sites on the sidelines during the All Blacks latest training session © Getty Images
The All Blacks have suffered a monster blow ahead of the first Test against England on Saturday with Kieran Read ruled out with concussion.
New Zealand are also sweating on the fitness of Julian Savea who is struggling with a knee injury and will need a scan on Thursday. But Read will definitely miss Saturday's Test as will Sam Cane who is sidelined for the entire series with a broken bone in his knee. Crusaders' Matt Todd has been added to the squad to cover Cane's absence with Steven Luatua coming in for Read.
Read played on Saturday but was out for a month after suffering a knock to the head on April 19 during the Crusaders' match against the Chiefs.
"We're not prepared to risk him playing and that's our decision, not his, and we'll progress that day by day," All Blacks coach Steve Hansen said. "He's frustrated, as you would be, but we're very lucky we've got capable people who can fill in his place.
"Jerome Kaino and Victor [Vito] have been performing very well and Liam [Messam] is an incumbent. We've got some good people to step up."
For Ma'a Nonu, Saturday's game marks a full circle after he made his debut against England back in 2003. He admits Read is a big loss but has backed the next cabs on the rank to step up.
"It's unfortunate, but it's just the way it goes," Nonu said. "Luckily we've got a few guys who can back-up so they have to step up and perform. He's great, he played really well last year. In terms of being our No.8 and it's a big loss as I said before guys will step up. He's had it more than other guys so it's a matter of looking after his health and that's the priority for him."
And Nonu is hopeful Savea will return in time to face England on Saturday. "I think it would be a big loss. Julian's been the most physical winger in Super Rugby and I think we just need to take our time. The game's not for five days so hopefully he'll heal up. I haven't been around him, holding his hand, but he wasn't training. He's pretty down so after this I'll check on him and buy him a coffee."
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Tom Hamilton is the Associate Editor of ESPNscrum.
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