Read out of the fog and ready for the Force
Kieran Read is in no hurry to repeat the past 40 days.
Since being concussed at Waikato Stadium last month he has had to endure the unpleasant symptoms that accompany such brain injuries, refrain from training and put on a brave face for concerned family members.
To top it all off, just when he hoped to make a comeback, his return was delayed by a head cold.
Yesterday, finally, the No 8 confirmed he will lead the Crusaders against the Western Force at AMI Stadium tomorrow night.
Read's problems began with a high tackle from Chiefs lock Mike Fitzgerald on April 19.
"Headaches were one, feeling in a bit of a fog and cloudiness," Read said when explaining the concussion symptoms.
The IRB player of the year is no stranger to head injuries. He suffered concussion against the Hurricanes on March 28, and missed the following game against the Lions, but maintained he was not worried about the head knocks being cumulative.
His biggest concern tomorrow won't be another head knock; it was how his lungs would cope after not playing Super Rugby for six weeks.
The amount of time it took to recover was a "little bit" of a concern, he admitted.
"Certainly it's a worry and I think your family probably worries a bit more than yourself. But I guess you have to keep telling yourself if you are worrying about it it's not the best thing for it.
"So you try to keep a positive frame of mind. In the past I have come out of these things really well, so I gave myself that time."
He wouldn't have to go far to seek advice. Richie McCaw has suffered a number of concussions, while team doctor Deb Robinson is well versed in dealing with such situations during her long career with the Crusaders and All Blacks.
Read said he had never suffered such an extended period of headaches and added there was no chance of ignoring the medical staff's instructions.
"I knew deep down I wasn't right. You just have to wait it out, there's no really other thing you can to rehab a brain injury except for rest. That's what I had to do. Obviously it does put a bit stress on fitness-wise but that's just part and parcel of it."
When he began feeling ill from a head cold he said he didn't want to rush his return. That forced him out of last weekend's match against the Highlanders.
"I hadn't quite got over the concussion and I picked up the sinus infection and cold and what have you; and that rocked me for about a week. I didn't know whether it was a head cold or the concussion to be honest. So the doctors were a bit precautionary around that."
All Blacks coach Steve Hansen will be taking a keen interest in Read's performance against the Force as he prepares for the first test against England at Eden Park on June 7.
It took three to four weeks before he could start training again. Over the past fortnight he had been involved in contact sessions, including attending the All Blacks camps in Wellington and Christchurch.
Watching the Crusaders beat the Highlanders 32-30 after Patrick Osborne had a late try disallowed was a nervous affair, Read noted. "It was definitely a ‘no try'. But I was hiding behind the couch."
Read's return is the only change from the Highlanders match. Coach Todd Blackadder has rewarded the strong showing by front rowers Tim Perry, Ben Funnell and Nepo Laulala by starting them again.