Win or go home, Kieran Read says
July 3, 2013
Kieran Read was grateful for the time on the bench © Getty Images
Kieran Read has been restored to the Crusaders starting side as one of five changes to the team to play the Chiefs in Super Rugby round 19 at AMI Stadium in Christchurch on Saturday.
Read, Wyatt Crockett and Luke Romano each played the Highlanders in round 18 off the bench, after an exhaustive month with the All Blacks in the three-Test series against France, but they have been restored to the starting side alongside All Blacks hooker Corey Flynn and Owen Franks, the latter having missed the match in Dunedin with an infected elbow.
Read was prepared to front for the Crusaders if required at Forsyth Barr Stadium, but he was grateful for the extra time to recover mentally and physically. "You turn up and do whatever job is needed for this team," Read said after training on Wednesday. "The coaches decided I go to the bench and the boys did the job last week. I'm feeling great, the body is in good nick, and it was nice to have a little break."
The Chiefs won the first Super Rugby match against the Crusaders this season, 28-19, in Hamilton in May, scoring twice from charged-down kicks and Aaron Cruden denying the Crusaders a bonus point with a last-minute penalty goal. Read said the Crusaders were capable of playing much better than on that occasion, but he expected the Chiefs could do likewise.
"All you can do is to make sure the intensity is right and you give your all. We're primed to go - there's only two games left in the season and if we don't get it right we're going home. Our mental shift is that this is a semi-final and a game that has to be won."
The Crusaders have not hosted the Chiefs in Christchurch since defeating them 19-13 in 2009. The teams have since clashed seven times - in Hamilton, Mount Maunganui and Napier - with the Crusaders winning four but the Chiefs winning the past two.
Crusaders: Israel Dagg; Tom Marshall, Ryan Crotty, Tom Taylor, Zac Guildford; Dan Carter, Andy Ellis; Kieran Read (captain), Matt Todd, George Whitelock; Sam Whitelock, Luke Romano; Owen Franks, Corey Flynn, Wyatt Crockett. Replacements: Ben Funnell, Joe Moody, Tom Donnelly, Luke Whitelock,Willi Heinz, Tyler Bleyendaal, Telusa Veainu.
Chiefs:Robbie Robinson; Patrick Osborne, Charlie Ngatai, Bundee Aki, Asaeli Tikoirotuma; Aaron Cruden, Tawera Kerr-Barlow; Matt Vant Leven, Sam Cane, Liam Messam; Brodie Retallick, Craig Clarke; Ben Tameifuna, Hika Elliot, Pauliasi Manu. Replacements: Mahonri Schwalger, Ben Afeaki, Michael Fitzgerald, Tanerau Latimer, Augustine Pulu, Andrew Horrell, Tim Nanai-Williams.