He provides plenty, especially with ball in hand
The Crusaders' inspirational All Black No.8, Kieran Read, is in danger of missing the team's final Super Rugby league match of the season.
Read, who has struggled with a number of injuries in the past year, damaged his ribs in the Crusaders' 28-21 win over the table-topping Chiefs on Friday.
The No.8, who missed the start of the World Cup last year with an ankle injury, has had a season of multiple knocks and bruises. Apart from his World Cup injury, this Super Rugby season has seen Read break his nose and suffer a pelvic injury after landing heavily off a Crusaders line-out. He also suffered concussion against Ireland in the third Test of the June Series, and returned from injury to put in a commanding performance alongside the other members of the Crusaders pack.
"I think he's done a rib so I don't think he'll be right for next week," captain Richie McCaw said of the latest blow to Read.
It probably won't matter not having Read for the Force match next Saturday.
However, with the Crusaders now almost certain of play-off rugby, they will be sweating on his availability for the business end of the season.
Read these days can be considered as important to New Zealand rugby as McCaw, and Daniel Carter and he had a huge match last night coming back from his enforced break.
"He provides plenty, especially with ball in hand, he is a real threat. He gets the ball over the advantage line so having him back was huge...." McCaw said.
"But his leadership as well, he's pretty calm and does pretty well at line-out time."
And it was the Crusaders' disruption of the Chiefs set-piece that had a huge bearing on the match.
Seven times they stole ball from the woeful Chiefs' operation, missing captain Craig Clarke, and McCaw admitted they targeted that as a crucial area.
"It didn't actually matter who the personal was. I think the key, especially with this Chiefs team with guys like [Aaron] Cruden, Sonny [Bill Williams] and the backline when they're getting nice set-piece ball they can wreak havoc," he said
"The best way to stop that is to stop to the source. We put a bit of work in there, as we have always been doing, I thought as a line-out everyone, props included, all did their homework and put a lot of pressure on.
"You could see once we got a couple (of wins against the throw) it turns back on them but we just kept getting up and forced them into mistakes."