He's one of the best No.8s in the world
The importance of Kieran Read to the All Black cause should not be underestimated. That is why there was such relief he came through his first match unscathed.
Read, who played in the training run against the Counties-Manukau and Auckland teams in Pukekohe on Friday, has made good progress on the road to full recovery from the rib injury he suffered in the latter stages of the Super Rugby competition.
All Black coach Steve Hansen is confident that Read will be cleared to play in the All Blacks' first Rugby Championship match against Australia next Saturday.
"He's come through training well and he's done quite a bit from a physical point of view over the last 10 days," Hansen told the media.
Hansen also revealed why he was so relieved Read came through Friday's outing unscathed.
"He's one of the best No.8s in the world," the New Zealand mentor said.
"He understands the game and he's a great reader of the game so he's an important part [of the team]."
Read, who hasn't played since July 6, was also in a bright mood as the All Blacks stepped up preparations for the opening match of the Rugby Championship.
"They're feeling really good," he said, adding: "I haven't pushed them yet and not a lot of contact, so I'll just have to see how they pull up next week but feeling really good at the moment."
Crusaders' lock Luke Romano, who has been carrying a shoulder injury, will also be considered for selection for the Wallabies match next Saturday.
With Ali Williams unavailable after knee surgery, rookie Romano is a key component of the squad that only has three specialist second row forwards.
None of the Chiefs' players were available for the run-out at Pukekohe following their Super Rugby triumph over the Sharks last weekend.
The extended camp in Auckland will be important to the new coaching staff as the All Blacks look to pick up where they left off against Ireland in June, sweeping the three-test series.
Sources: APNZ & Fairfax NZ News