Replacing Richie McCaw as All Black captain would have been a daunting task, yet Kiwi No.8, Kieran Read, has filled the boots of the former Crusaders man in outstanding fashion. Read is the best No.8 in the game, and his role this coming summer against the British and Irish Lions will be crucial.
It’s therefore a huge worry for the All Blacks that their talisman could be missing this June and July. Read sustained an injury this weekend in a Crusaders 48-21 victory over the Cheetahs; fracturing his thumb and requires surgery.
“It is extremely disappointing for Kieran and concerning for the All Blacks,”
Crusaders assistant coach, Jason Ryan.
It could see the New Zealand captain miss six weeks of rugby, and be a major doubt for the Lions test. Considering the skipper only returned from injury on the 14th April, Read’s match test could be way off the mark come the first test in June.
In Northern Hemisphere rugby, the two No.8s fighting for the Lions jersey experienced more successful Bank Holiday weekends. Bath’s, Taulupe Faletau, ran in a hat-trick to try and further persuade Warren Gatland that the Welshman should have the jersey – not that Gatland needs any Welsh ties encouragement – Bath eventually ran out 44-20 winners over Gloucester, securing a bonus point in the process.
Meanwhile, Billy Vunipola played a part in an edgy Saracens 27-9 victory over the already relegated, Bristol. Billy’s brother, Mako, suffered a knock to the knee, but does not seem a major concern as the season draws to a close, and the Lions tour edging ever nearer.
With the battle for the back row further thrown into the air following the injury to flanker, Jerome Kaino, the Lions have reason to be encouraged by the news to the damaged All Blacks team.