Read likely to start for All Blacks
September 27, 2013
Kieran Read is recovering from a stomach complaint and should take his place in the All Blacks' pack © Getty Images
Flanker Tanerau Latimer will join the All Blacks in Argentina as injury cover but is not likely to be needed for the Test against the Pumas after stand-in captain Kieran Read declared himself a likely starter. All Blacks management called on openside specialist Latimer after Read didn't attend the team's final training run on Thursday, two days out from the Rugby Championship Test in La Plata.
However, world class No.8 Read told journalists he is recovering from a stomach complaint and thought he would be fit to play his 56th Test on Sunday morning (AEST).
"I was not quite right so it was better to take a day off to get ready," he said. "It's about looking after yourself and resting. I feel a lot better today. I'm not quite 100 per cent just yet so I'll take it easy today."
He was to make a decision about his availability at the team's light run at the Estadio Unico de La Plata venue 24 hours before kick-off. Latimer was set to join the squad less than 24 hours before kickoff, providing depth to the All Blacks' back-up options at loose forward.
Among the five loose forwards originally selected is regular captain Richie McCaw, who is recovering from a knee injury which ruled him out of contention this week. McCaw is hoping to be fit to face South Africa in Johannesburg next week. If he is unavailable, Read's spot at the back of the scrum will go to Liam Messam, who would shift from the blindside flank.
Steven Luatua, who is named in the reserves, would then come onto the side of the scrum with Latimer rushed onto the bench. Chiefs and Bay of Plenty flanker Latimer played five Tests in 2009 but has since fallen out of favour. He was the first-choice openside for the Super Rugby champion Chiefs but his franchise team-mate Sam Cane is rated higher by the All Blacks selectors and will start this week. Latimer's call-up was also aided by an injury to Canterbury flanker Matt Todd during an NPC match last week.
Fringe All Black Todd underwent surgery on a pectoral muscle which will rule him out of rugby for up to six months.
New Zealand: Israel Dagg; Ben Smith, Conrad Smith, Ma'a Nonu, Julian Savea; Aaron Cruden, Aaron Smith; Kieran Read (Capt), Sam Cane, Liam Messam; Sam Whitelock, Brodie Retallick; Owen Franks, Andrew Hore, Tony Woodcock. Replacements: Keven Mealamu, Wyatt Crockett, Charlie Faumuina, Jeremy Thrush, Steven Luatua, Tawera Kerr-Barlow, Beauden Barrett, Charles Piutau.
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