All Blacks captain Kieran Read makes his return in club rugby
All Blacks captain Kieran Read proved a drawcard in Christchurch on Saturday as he played his first game of club rugby in nine years.
The crowds showed up at Linfield Park for what was no ordinary club rugby derby in University's 60-11 win over Linwood.
It was one of those rare occasions when the kids got to see their hero and the club stalwarts got to see an All Black return to "grass roots" rugby. A rare occasion in this professional rugby era.
Read come off the pitch happy with his own performance and said his wrist injury wasn't an issue, but the run around was a small shock to the system.
"It was still pretty tough out there to be honest, we played with the ball a little bit," he said.
"It was nice, it was awesome to get out with the lads. The legs, the legs were not used to it I guess, making tackles, getting up, just all that type of running you do, it's hard to replicate that in training. It's nice to get a wee hit-out and I look forward to next weekend."
Read's appearance certainly lifted his team with the majority of the points being scored in the first half, leading 31-6 in to the break.
"For me it was just about enjoying the day, I didn't want to come across and say too much to be honest just wanted to sit back and enjoy it and just let the boys do their thing and just play as well as I could."
"It certainly felt like a full-on game. Club rugby is alive and well when you've got a crowd like this turning up. I really enjoyed the atmosphere down here and just put on the boots and get a bit of contact on the body again is always nice."
This was Read's first game following wrist surgery over the off-season. The last time he played he led the All Blacks to their 24-19 win over France in Paris on November 26.
"[I've had] a real clean-up in the wrist in surgery and have taken the time to get it right and and it's good now, I just have to look after it. you would have seen me have a bit of extra protection."
Read looked calm on the field and tended to stay out of contact, locked firmly on the wing at stages and in the backline without much contact.
"I played with my kids this morning, I was pretty relaxed to be honest. It was nice. Forty minutes was nice and certainly look to build on that again next week. Great to help the boys in some way and get our first win of the season."
Read was going to enjoy the after match celebrations with his team-mates.
"Don't know if its a Powerade in the club room or a beer nowadays, but looking forward to that."
Read's return coincided with that of opposition first-five Richie Mo'unga who hadn't played since having an operation on his left hand on February 26, a result of him fracturing a bone in the Crusaders' first-round match against the Brumbies.
He made an impact for Linwood, sparking his backline in the second half.