Super Rugby
Kieran Read retains Crusaders captaincy after Whitelock cameo
ESPN Staff
January 22, 2016
© Martin Hunter/Getty Images

The Crusaders have opted against following the lead of their New Zealand counterparts in appointing co-captains, coach Todd Blackadder confirming incumbent skipper Kieran Read will again lead the franchise in 2016.

But the Christchurch side will be piloted by a new man in the opening weeks of Super Rugby with lock Sam Whitelock set to deputise while Read enjoys an extended break following last year's Rugby World Cup.

The All Blacks No.8 has returned to training with the Crusaders but won't take to the field until the round-four clash with South Africa's Southern Kings in Christchurch.

"Kieran Read is going be the captain for 2016 and Sam Whitelock is going to be leading the charge," Blackadder said Friday.

"So it's not quite co-captaincy, Reado's not available for the first three weeks, but it's also given Sam a great opportunity.

"He's (Whitelock) probably been leading the team anyway for the last couple of years, this just makes it a little bit more official for him. It's a great opportunity for him, he was probably our best player last year and he leads through his actions.

"Reado has been captain, he was last year's captain; I know he's not available for the first three weeks of this competition but I can assure you that he's absolutely committed to this team and the cause, and wanting this team to be really successful.

"So we've got two great men at the helm who are natural leaders anyway and we're really excited and really pleased with this outcome."

The Crusaders have had a high turnover of personnel since missing the Super Rugby playoffs for the first time in 12 years last season.

Gone are All Blacks greats Dan Carter and Richie McCaw while the likes of Colin Slade, Tom Taylor, Dominic Bird and Nepu Laulala have also moved on.

Read acknowledged the changing of the guard, but said there was a real excitement within the squad as they prepare for a season that will be Blackadder's last in charge.

"For this group, it's an entirely new group," Read said.

"You know we've got a lot of players who have moved on, some great young players that have come in; so they just bring a lot of enthusiasm and real excitement to this group.

"So this 2016 Crusader team is just going to go out there and try and play well, and try and bring back a bit of real pride for what we do in this region."

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