Read, Coles set to miss France series

Kieran Read.
Kieran Read.
Kieran Read is unlikely to play for the All Blacks in the French test series and neither is Dane Coles, All Blacks coach Steve Hansen saying today that his star pair would take a very cautious approach to their return from injury.

Skipper and No 8 Read is yet to play this year due to back surgery in December – the procedure done to free a trapped nerve which had caused him leg pain for many months.

"I don't think he'll be back until after the French series but that's not a fait accompli at this point," Hansen told Martin Devlin on Radio Sport this morning.

"We'll just take our time and as I said about a month ago, he knows his body and we can't afford to come back too early and damage it again and miss another six months and maybe even miss the World Cup - we'll just take it one day at a time and one week at a time."

Hooker Dane Coles is also yet to make a return in 2018 due to an operation following a ruptured ACL (knee) ligament.

"Dane is having a few problems with his knee too - he can't seem to straighten it," Hansen said. "He's gone back to the surgeon and the surgeon has put him back in a brace at night to try to help him get full extension.

"Once that happens he'll make progress pretty quickly. He is unlikely to be available for June."

Both men are among the best in the world in their positions but of the two Read may be the more difficult for Hansen to replace for the French series, which starts at Eden Park on June 9.

Highlander Liam Squire is an obvious replacement but has a broken thumb and could lack game time when he returns, while veteran Jerome Kaino, off to France at the end of the season, is out for six weeks with a torn hamstring.

As far as the No 2 jersey goes, Codie Taylor has been in good form for the Crusaders, with Nathan Harris of the Chiefs and Asafo Aumua likely to be his back-up for the black jersey.

Hansen, a constant presence at New Zealand derbies recently, said he was pleased with the form of the men he was keeping an eye on, adding: "A lot of younger players are putting their hands up as well.

"A lot of teams are battling their way through some heartache and others look like they're doing it pretty easy. It's interesting watching how everyone's coping with that but by and large the people we need to be playing well are playing well."

Hansen said his "foundation days" – short camps educating those in the All Black frame before the French series – were working well. Those North Island players in the mix for the national team will meet in Wellington next Monday before more physical "preparation camps" will be held in Auckland on May 20-22 and Christchurch on May 27-29.

"We've got a lot of work done that we won't have to do nearer to game time. We won't have to fill them with words, we'll be able to actually do stuff and prepare for the test match properly."

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