Saturday, December 19, 2015

Captain-in-waiting faces a big challenge

Kieran Read is undoubtedly the All Blacks captain-in-waiting now that Richie McCaw has opted for retirement.

It promises to be a challenging time for a new skipper, although Read has had plenty of exposure to the role before during periods of absence from his Crusaders and All Blacks team-mate.

A player with his own star quality, and a World Rugby Player of the Year, Read seems assured to follow in the traditional captaincy role of the All Blacks.

The 2016 team will be a rebuilding season. A solid core of experience has departed what had been a solid All Blacks camp in the wake of the 2015 Rugby World Cup success.

Signs are that the selectors have had an eye on exactly the situation they will find themselves in ahead of the tour by Wales, and the annual Rugby Championship series.

Read is a central part of the rebuild which has as its first big test the tour by the British and Irish Lions in 2017.

It is timely that as he prepares to take on that challenge that a study of his career to date offers a reminder of what has contributed to Read's make-up and readiness to assume the toughest job in the country.

Matt Elliott's 'Kieran Read – Tribute to a Great Eight' tells that story and highlights the Auckland-born Cantabrian's rise through the ranks, his choice for rugby ahead of cricket and his place in the All Blacks' great side.

It does rely heavily on comment from other sources and lacks input from Read which is probably due to the fact that he will have his own story penned sometime in the future.

But the guts of his story to date is there in well illustrated form and will help tide fans over until the rapidly arriving onset of a new rugby season.

Kieran Read – Tribute to a Great Eight by Matt Elliott. Published by Batemen. Price $39.99.

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