WELLINGTON – Kieran Read's return to his rampaging best could not have come at a better time for his Canterbury Crusaders team ahead of the Super Rugby final against the Lions as well as for All Blacks coach Steve Hansen as they prepare for the Rugby Championship.
Read missed virtually all of Super Rugby as he recovered from back surgery late last year but was an unofficial member of the All Blacks squad for their series against France in June.
Hansen described his captain as making himself 'a pain in the butt' during the training sessions, where his role was to replicate the tactics of the French and he returned for the Crusaders after the international break.
Read's minutes were carefully managed as he built back into the competition and he has been increasingly more stinging on defence in each of his four games since his return.
He is also starting to get back to his best running with the ball, if his top-end pace is not quite back to what it was, which Hansen was hoping to see by the time the All Blacks open their Rugby Championship defence against Australia on Aug. 18.