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Contract extension imminent for NZ's Read

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 14/02/2017 Angelo Risso

Kieran Read has all but confirmed his reign as All Blacks skipper will continue through to the 2019 World Cup.

The 31-year-old, who has led the side for the past 12 months, is yet to sign an extension to a contract that runs through to late 2017.

But the 97-cap loosie acknowledged to reporters on Tuesday that he never had any intention of making a shock move offshore, and would soon sign a new deal.

Read could command more than $1 million a year under the New Zealand Rugby collective bargaining agreement set down in December.

The union has been on a major retention drive in the wake of the agreement, securing the signatures of Owen Franks, Ben Smith and Israel Dagg.

But first-team Test regulars including Charlie Faumuina and Aaron Cruden, as well as Steven Luatua, have decided to head for European pastures anew.

"It's just in the background a little bit while there's a few key guys to get signed up, which is great to see," Read said of his extension.

"I'm sure it'll get sorted out pretty quickly, I was probably not going to be going anywhere too far."

Having played through the pain barrier for much of late 2016, the Crusaders stalwart underwent surgery on a crocked wrist in early December.

He said the injury would keep him out until the Christchurch-based side's mid-April clash with the Sunwolves at least.

Yet despite his early-season absence, Read was bullish about the side's chances of breaking an eight-year Super Rugby title drought.

New boss Scott Robertson had brought plenty of energy to the playing group, while first-five Richie Mo'unga was poised for a breakout campaign.

Last week's runners-up berth in the Brisbane Tens also boded well.

"He's got his own ideas, his personality exudes a lot of charisma and it's created a different vibe in the group," Read said of Robertson.

"We'll start the season with confidence in our group to be there at the business end, we've just got to give ourselves the opportunity."

Also on the horizon is the mid-year tour of the British and Irish Lions, who will play three Tests and 10 matches overall in New Zealand.

Read said he and All Blacks boss Steve Hansen had been in regular contact over the off-season and would begin ramping up their plans in the coming weeks.

Hansen had also held a wellbeing camp for his Test regulars in Auckland last month, checking up on their pre-season fitness.

"Alongside the World Cup, it's one of the biggest things for a rugby player to be a part of and I'm really excited by that challenge," Read said.

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