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Steve Hansen reflects on Kieran Read's leadership

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Lynn McConnell     07 Mar 2019     Getty Images

Due to the successful management of the changeover which saw previous captain Richie McCaw and senior players Keven Mealamu, Tony Woodcock, Dan Carter, Ma'a Nonu and Conrad Smith depart, Read had been able to lead a seamless transition in the All Blacks' game.

In many ways it could be said the side had become even more successful in the subsequent years.

All Blacks coach Steve Hansen acknowledged the role Read had played in that when he announced his preference to play his post-All Blacks rugby in Japan, in Christchurch on Wednesday.

Hansen said Read's determination was shown in the way he had played during his career.

He had arrived on the Test scene as a 20-year-old, moved to the Crusaders where he started out as a blindside flanker. But the All Blacks' selectors saw something a little different in him and moved him to No.8 where he proved uncompromising and with defence that was as good as his attack.

He had become a World Player of the year and he was a consistent performer.

To be able to do that, players had to be able to take their mindsets to the deepest places week in and week out.

The captaincy factor had been another aspect of his career.

"Leadership starts with being able to lead yourself," Hansen said.
"He showed early on that he could prepare well and a lot of that is being able to lead yourself. He got given different tasks in different teams. For us, his first big task was driving the lineouts, he's probably the best in the world. From then he moved into supporting Richie and had the opportunity to actually lead while Richie was injured.

"And it's a daunting task being an All Black let alone the captain. It takes some time, they grow into it and you don't stop learning and he's still got a little learning to do as we all do.

"But he's shown he's got the respect of all his peers. The boys just love him, the management love him so that gives you an indication he's doing something right," he said.

In reflecting on Read's playing qualities, Hansen said there were so many that he couldn't single out one. He was a great offloader in the wide channel and he got balls away.

"I think I remember the South African Test in Wellington it was, around the back to Richie and Richie scored in the corner. But they became the norm so they don't really stand out. Most things he does, he does to a very, very high level and you start to take it for granted," he said.