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Italy v New Zealand, Rome, November 17
Read set to lead by example
ESPN Staff
November 16, 2012
New Zealand's Kieran Read warms up for his first game as captain, New Zealand training session, Stadio Tre Fontane di Roma, Rome, Italy, November 15, 2012
Kieran Read will lead the All Blacks for the first time this weekend when they tackle Italy in Rome © Getty Images
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Players/Officials: Richie McCaw | Kieran Read
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New Zealand No.8 Kieran Read has vowed to lead by example when he captains the All Blacks for the first time against Italy in Rome on Saturday.

The 27-year-old, widely regarded as one of the All Blacks' most consistent performers in recent years, will lead the side at the Stadio Olimpico in the absence of regular skipper Richie McCaw who will sit out their latest tour clash. And perhaps wisely, Read has made a point of tapping into McCaw's vast experience that has been accrued throughout a record 114-Test cap career - including 77 as captain.

"I think the great leaders are the ones that don't work on it too hard, they just let it come," Read told Stuff.co.nz. "I've definitely got my own style of how I lead. I like the team to know exactly where they're going and are all on the same page. There's ways you can improve."

As for the influence of McCaw, his team-mate with club Canterbury, Super Rugby side the Crusaders and country, he added: "He [McCaw] said the easiest way to lead is if you're the best player on the pitch. He does that every week. It's essentially how I do things as well. I've got to get my performance right and the guys will follow. You can lead with your words after that."

The significance of the role is not lost on Read who is ready to embrace arguably the most high-profile position in New Zealand life. "It's a great opportunity and I'm very honoured. It's one of the biggest jobs in the country. It means a hell of a lot. I'm extremely proud right now and have been all week. I'm jumping out of my skin to be honest," he said.

"I'm following the man that's, in my opinion, the greatest All Black captain so there's huge boots to fill."

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