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Mon 14 May 2018 | 08:04

All Blacks captain Read finally back training

Crusaders assistant coach Ronan O'Gara - Round 14 v Blues
Mon 14 May 2018 | 08:04

All Blacks captain Read finally back training

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Read, who has not played rugby since leading the All Blacks to a 22-17 win over Scotland in Edinburgh in November, was forced to undergo surgery on his spine to alleviate pain in his leg in December.

The 32-year-old, who had worked behind closed doors to concentrate on his recovery, has been spotted training with Super Rugby Champions Crusaders according to New Zealand media reports.

The Crusaders along with the All Blacks have not put a definitive date on the No.8's return.

But, Crusaders assistant coach Ronan O'Gara revealed to Stuff it is good news to see Read training after the spinal surgery.

"I think it was a nice surprise for everybody,"  O'Gara, who had initially hoped to be back playing by mid-April said, adding: "I think there is a plan with coach Scott Robertson and the medical team about how much he can partake, but it's just great to have him back at the club,"

"I think it is a very slow-burner at this stage," O'Gara confirmed. "There is a plan in place, and with long-term injuries, the plan obviously has to be pretty flexible. I think it [the sight of Read] did give all the boys a bit of a lift, and he had one or two points [to make] which are always valuable information.

"I don't know if he touched a ball, it was walking speed at training,"

During Read's absence, Sam Whitelock took on the role of captaining the Crusaders.

Meanwhile, the Christchurch side will play the Blues in Auckland on Saturday, also had a couple of other injured All Blacks on deck. Lock Luke Romano, who suffered a high ankle sprain in late April, took part in a light game of touch and fullback/wing Israel Dagg, who hurt his right knee against the Brumbies on April 28, has made a swift recovery.

However, Dagg could still miss the Blues' match depending on match fitness.

Loosehead prop Tim Perry, who damaged a hamstring against the Brumbies, should be available for selection which is timely given All Blacks teammate Joe Moody was suspended for two weeks for striking Kurtley Beale in the 31-29 win over the Waratahs last Saturday night.

The Crusaders can also consider tighthead prop Owen Franks and midfielder Ryan Crotty to play the Blues – both were rested from the Waratahs game – while wing Manasa Mataele will have to pass an HIA test on Thursday.

@NZStuff

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All Blacks Captain Read Finally Back Training | Rugby365