Steve Hansen wary of rushing Kieran Read back
Read has played just 80 minutes of rugby – in the final round of Super Rugby before the international break – since suffering concussion in the Crusaders’ game against the Chiefs in April.
While Read appears to be fit after missing the first Test because he felt out of sorts following his Super Rugby hit-out, a lack of game time could see Hansen stick with Jerome Kaino or bring in Victor Vito for the second Test with England in Dunedin.
“Kieran is training pretty good at the moment. He did an hour-and-a-half (Saturday) and had no signs or symptoms. It’s just a matter of the lack of games and whether we chuck him back in or we do the safer thing and give him a week’s training and build him up and save him for the last Test,” Hansen said.
“It would be nice to have him because he’s a great player but at the same time we’ve got to think about the whole year and him.
“We’ll make that decision once we get down to Dunedin and get Monday out of the way and probably Tuesday we’ll have a far better idea.”
Hansen said winger Julian Savea, who missed the last-gasp 20-15 win with a knee injury, was also ‘feeling a lot better’.
“But we’ll have to wait and see what he’s like once he starts running on that knee,” Hansen added.
Fullback Israel Dagg is another player being monitored after he was replaced by Beauden Barrett in the second half in Auckland because of a sore thigh.
It is an ongoing problem the 23-year-old has been managing for a month.
“It only really affects his kicking,” Hansen said.
“It’s something we’ll look at this week and decide whether we need to keep pushing that and limiting his training load on it or whether we make some changes and let him have a week off and get it right.”
Hansen reiterated there was no need to panic following his side’s less than convincing display against an under-strength England side.
It was only a bold decision by Aaron Cruden to take a quick tap penalty rather than kick for goal, which led to Conrad Smith scoring the match-winning try with two minutes to go.
“It was a typical first Test really. Everyone expects us to jump out and be perfect straight away and we probably have that expectation of ourselves but sometimes that’s not the reality,” the All Blacks coach said.
“We struggled at times last night with our skill execution. Usually that’s an indicator that we’ve got cluttered minds. If we’ve got cluttered minds it’s probably because we’ve made them cluttered through the week giving them too much to do.
“But with another six days we’ll step up a few more levels and be in a better position to really gauge where we are at after next weekend’s game.”
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