Delayed start to Super Rugby for Kieran Read

Getty Images

    14 Dec 2017     Getty Images

While the loss of any player with 100 Test caps reduces experience significantly, the Crusaders' choice to name Sam Whitelock as captain for the 2017 campaign is already proving its worth.

Read also had a late start to the Super Rugby campaign in 2017 and returned to rugby just before the first Test against the British & Irish Lions in June.

His initial reason for a delayed start was while recovering from wrist surgery. He played his first game on April 14 against the Sunwolves but while on the Crusaders' tour to South Africa he suffered a broken thumb against the Cheetahs. That ruled him out of the Crusaders' game against the Lions.

Next year's return could be earlier, in mid-April, giving him plenty of time to prepare for New Zealand's three-Test series with France in June.

Troubled by leg injuries during the recent northern tour by the All Blacks Read will have surgery on Saturday on a prolapsed lumbar disc in his back. The injury occurred at the end of the All Blacks season and forced Read to miss the Test against Wales when the captaincy fell to Whitelock for the first time in a Test.

Both the All Blacks and Crusaders medical teams have reviewed his case, along with a back specialist who will monitor Read's recovery.

It is anticipated that Read will be out of action for about four months. He tweeted a message that he was looking forward to watching a big summer of cricket while he recovered.

Because of his All Blacks duties Whitelock will have a delayed start with the Crusaders.

The return of Tom Sanders to the Crusaders side this year after two seasons with the Chiefs will strengthen the loose forward cover in Read's absence with Jordan Taufua, Pete Samu and Ethan Blackadder prospective candidates to play at No.8.

The Crusaders open their 2018 campaign on February 24 when hosting the Chiefs.