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Read happy with leadership at Crusaders
February 27, 2013
The Crusaders' Kieran Read charges towards the try line, Chiefs v Crusaders, Super Rugby, Waikato Stadium, Hamilton, New Zealand, July 6, 2012
Kieran Read will lead the Crusaders in 2013 in the absence of Richie McCaw. © Getty Images
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Captaincy sits comfortably with Crusaders No.8 Kieran Read who will shoulder that responsibility even when the skipper for the last eight years, Richie McCaw, returns from his sabbatical in July.

Read is champing at the bit to lead the Crusaders in their opening match of the Super Rugby season against first-round winners, the Blues, at Eden Park on Friday night. Having the bye last week was not what Read wanted.

"I certainly don't think it is ideal as you always like a game under your belt, but the way we've prepared has been outstanding," Read said after the team's final training on Wednesday. "We've done a good job of looking after ourselves and have worked really hard. The boys will be itching to get out on the field, so hopefully that will take care of any rustiness."

Read said watching the other New Zealand teams square off last week got the adrenalin flowing.

"That gets you excited and nervous, but that's good."

Read said the Blues team of this year bore no comparisons to last year's side which finished last of the five New Zealand teams and 12th of the 15 franchises.

"Obviously they're playing with a lot of heart and they showed last week [in the win over the Hurricanes] they've got a lot of attacking flair and we expect the same from them this week."

Read believed the presence of former All Blacks coach Graham Henry at the Blues would have instilled self-belief.

"The way they backed themselves and the licence given to a few of their individual players is how Ted [Henry] likes to use guys. They are going to be tough for us to contain this week."

Although the Crusaders had a record 59-12 win when the two teams last clashed, in Christchurch nine months ago, Read remembers playing the Blues first up for the last two years in Auckland with the Blues winning, 24-22, in 2011 and the Crusaders prevailing by a point last year.

"I don't think we've ever had an easy game at Eden Park. Even the ones we've won have been really close. We've got to front up from the start for in this competition it is never easy chasing tails."

The Crusaders will be at their strongest with seven All Blacks in the pack and two more in the halves, Andy Ellis and Dan Carter, to direct the backline. The loss of wings Zac Guildford and Johnny McNicholl has led to All Blacks fullback Israel Dagg shifting to the left wing with Tom Taylor at fullback.

Coach Todd Blackadder has two first-class goal-kickers in Taylor and Carter but said he hadn't decided who would line up the posts on Friday.

"I'll throw them the ball and see who catches it," Blackadder joked.

Crusaders: 1.Wyatt Crockett, 2.Corey Flynn, 3.Owen Franks, 4.Luke Romano, 5.Sam Whitelock, 6.George Whitelock, 7.Matt Todd, 8.Kieran Read (c), 9.Andy Ellis, 10.Dan Carter, 11.Israel Dagg, 12.Ryan Crotty, 13.Robbie Fruean, 14.Adam Whitelock, 15.Tom Taylor.

© Sportal
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