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Read: Don't rest me for Richie

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Sportal.co.nz     02 May 2012     Getty Images

8 Kieran Read is keen to soldier on despite playing nearly every minute of the Crusaders' nine Investec Super Rugby matches, although the return of Richie McCaw from his foot injury could see him receive a respite.

Read has been outstanding in the last three wins against the Stormers, the Hurricanes, and the Waratahs and he wants to extend that form into the round 11 match against the defending champions, the Reds, at Christchurch's AMI Stadium on Sunday afternoon.

In what will be a replay of last year's Super Rugby final, the Crusaders have a score to settle after losing the competition decider, 13-18, after also having lost to the Reds 16-17 in the preliminary rounds and 20-41 the previous year.

Read said the Crusaders viewed the game not so much about revenge but more that the need to stay in contact with the New Zealand conference leaders had them desperate for a win on home turf.

"Last year they got a couple of good victories over us at Suncorp Stadium, but you just look at the table and we're still in third position in our conference [behind the Chiefs and the Highlanders] so we can't really afford to be dropping any game – the pressure is on us in that respect as well," Read said at Crusaders training on Tuesday.

"The Reds are in the same position [behind the Brumbies and the Waratahs] in their conference. The closer you get to the June Tests you've got to keep yourself in the mix and stay as close as you can.

"We've really got to make sure we're on the job and there won't be any lack of motivation for our guys to be up this week."

Read, Matt Todd and George Whitelock have shouldered a heavy workload to date, but the return of McCaw gives coach Todd Blackadder the chance to rotate his chief loose forwards.

"I'm feeling great and am really happy with how I'm performing so far this season," Read said.

"The body is really good and I feel like I can keep going. I guess it's going to be a matter of finding time [to rest] but we've got a couple of tough weeks ahead which I want to get under my belt.'

Read said he has enjoyed captaining the Crusaders but has no qualms handing back the reins to McCaw when he gets his first start.

"Just to have him back in the side obviously adds a great dimension to our loose forwards. He can cover all positions and I guess game time will be spread around a little from now on."

The Crusaders have scored 20 tries this season and Read, with two, is the only forward on the score sheet. He likes to think that is because the forwards were doing their job and setting a platform but he would like to be joined on the list by fellow pack members.

"A few of the boys might just have to start putting their hands up – maybe we've lost a few greedy props," he laughed.