Read speaks about taking All Blacks captaincy

LAIM NAPIER IN ROME
Last updated 01:31 16/11/2012
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LEADER: Kieran Read will lead the All Blacks through his own actions.

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Lead with actions, then bark the orders.

That is Kieran Read's philosophy as he takes over the All Blacks captaincy from Richie McCaw in Rome this week.

It's a simplistic approach but one Read will naturally assume. He is a born leader.

The world-class No. 8 rarely has a poor outing in the black jersey. It's hard to recall a test without his crunching tackles, powerful ball carries and lineout guidance.

Since taking over from Rodney So'olialo, Read has been consistently one of the All Blacks' best.

So'olialo captained the All Blacks five times but you get the feeling Read might eventually slip into the mould of other great No. 8s who have led the All Blacks like Buck Shelford and Sir Brian Lochore.  

"I think the great leaders are the ones that don't work on it too hard, they just let it come," Read said. "I've definitely got my own style of how I lead. I like the team to know exactly where they're going and are all on the same page. There's ways you can improve."

On Sunday against Italy, Read will lead out the All Blacks for the first time, but will not be the last. He is set to be a crucial figure in the lead-up to the next World Cup in 2015.

All Blacks captain is not just one of the most significant titles in New Zealand sport; the role also carries one of the biggest public profiles in the country.

But it's not like Read comes in cold. He's been groomed to the step up for some time having led Canterbury and the Crusaders on many occasions. More importantly, he commands his place in the All Blacks and respect from his peers. 

Read had plenty of time to gather his thoughts after sitting out the comfortable victory in Edinburgh on Monday. For that reason he shouldn't be overawed by the pivotal task. Seeing the sights of Rome yesterday was also a "meditating" experience.

It wouldn't surprise too see his nervous excitement translate into a statement performance that says he's ready and waiting to accept the long-term throne.

McCaw may be in the background this week but Read wisely tapped into his experience for some poignant advice.

"He [McCaw] said the easiest way to lead is if you're the best player on the pitch. He does that every week. It's essentially how I do things as well," Read said. "I've got to get my performance right and the guys will follow. You can lead with your words after that."

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Captaincy is not just about what happens on the field. Success is the end product of how well your messages are delivered and received prior to the 80-minutes.

In his first public speaking assignment as All Blacks skipper Read made all the right noises. And if he can repeat those sentiments to his key players in the lead-up to Sunday, it should be a seamless transition.

"It's a great opportunity and I'm very honoured. It's one of the biggest jobs in the country. It means a hell of a lot. I'm extremely proud right now and have been all week. I'm jumping out of my skin to be honest," he said.

"I'm following the man that's, in my opinion, the greatest All Black captain so there's huge boots to fill."

Other than McCaw, Read has learnt the leadership ropes from Crusaders coach Todd Blackadder.

"I've had a lot to do with him. He captained the All Blacks and Crusaders for many years. He's someone I've looked up to. He's been strong and enabled me to have more confidence in my leadership style and take it to another level."

It is clear Read has been craving this chance to confirm his captaincy credentials.

There is little doubt he will now follow through on his convictions.

- Stuff

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