Read only All Black in doubt for Chiefs opener

RICHARD KNOWLER
Last updated 05:00 29/01/2014
Kieran Read
KIRK HARGREAVES/Fairfax NZ
IN DOUBT: Kieran Read.

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Super Rugby

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The Crusaders will give each other the bash on Saturday afternoon.

Coach Todd Blackadder has organised an inter-squad game, comprising of three 20-minute quarters, to be played at Rugby Park.

This week the Crusaders have been "in camp" in Christchurch and over the next two weekends will confront the Highlanders and Hurricanes in Motueka and Levin before their Super Rugby opener against the Chiefs in Christchurch on February 21.

Last year the Crusaders' team management organised several excursions, including some hunting and fishing forays, before staying in Hanmer Springs, but Blackadder said the preference was to remain in the city and concentrate on eradicating the slow start that resulted in them losing their opening games to the Blues and Hurricanes last year.

"This camp has been rugby-focused. We have gone away in the past but we only have a short amount of time [to prepare] and we want to make sure we are ready to go at the start."

On Monday the All Blacks, apart from Dan Carter who is on a sabbatical and won't return until after the June test window, returned to the franchise and Blackadder is optimistic of having his internationals available to play the defending champions.

"Reado [Kieran Read] will possibly be the only one [to miss the Chiefs game]," Blackadder said. "Everyone who is fit and ready to perform will be ready to go."

After his performances for the All Blacks last year Read was named the IRB and New Zealand player of the year. He also carried a heavy physical workload and captained the side when Richie McCaw was injured.
Loosehead prop Joe Moody, who broke a leg in last year's NPC final and was invalided out of the All Blacks northern tour, isn't expected to be available until late March. This gives Wyatt Crockett an early chance to emphasise to Blackadder why he should retain the No 1 jersey.

Giant wing Nemani Nadolo, currently on duty with the NEC Green Rockets in Japan, has been nursing a minor injury but was named to start at centre last weekend. He is expected to join the Crusaders in about a months.

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