Kieran Read to miss pre-season clash
Crusaders fans must wait before sighting new captain Kieran Read on duty.
Read, along with the other six All Blacks who played on last year's northern tour, will be rested from Saturday afternoon's Super Rugby pre-season match against the Hurricanes at Timaru's Alpine Energy Stadium.
With Richie McCaw on leave until late June, Read has been appointed Crusaders skipper and will retain that honour when - or if - McCaw returns to action.
Forwards' coach Dave Hewett said none of the current All Blacks will be expected to suit-up so soon after returning from holiday. "They will be at the game but not playing. Monday was just their first official day back." Hewett said.
Despite being on holiday the internationals were expected to maintain their fitness levels, but will require time to get used to contact training and any new systems introduced by head coach Todd Blackadder. No 8 Read could make an appearance against the Highlanders in Oamaru on February 8 or the Waratahs in Sydney on February 14.
Because the Crusaders have the bye in the opening round and their first match against the Blues is not until March 1, Hewett said a match involving their development side may be organised a week before.
Read, 27, led the All Blacks against Italy in Rome last year. He has captained the Crusaders when McCaw has been injured or on leave in a caretaker role.
There are several players who can captain the side in Read's absence. George Whitelock has been Canterbury skipper in recent seasons, while Andy Ellis and Corey Flynn are also options.
Dan Carter was the vice-captain last year but will be on ice along with the other All Blacks.
Whitelock, Ellis, Matt Todd, Willi Heinz and Ryan Crotty are all expected to be available despite being given a dispensation to train away from the squad until January 7.
That was designed to allow them to refresh after a stacked Crusaders and Canterbury programme.
While McCaw is on leave, another international, lock Tom Donnelly, is not expected to join the squad because he is still on duty with the Japanese second-division club, Mitsubishi, which he joined seven months ago.
"He will return around February 11 and that's just because his team is doing well and is through to the next level of competition," Hewett said.