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Read lives up to captaincy in Lions win

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 24/06/2017 Angelo Risso

Kieran Read has lived up to the legacy of legendary All Blacks skipper Richie McCaw with his commanding display against the British and Irish Lion, coach Steve Hansen believes.

Read, in his first match for almost two months after breaking his thumb on Crusaders duty, put in a colossal 76-minute shift at Eden Park on Saturday and dominated opposing No.8 Taulupe Faletau.

The 31-year-old ran 59 metres with the ball - more than any other Kiwi forward - as well as giving two offloads and making eight tackles.

It was a key plank of his side's 30-15 victory, as the All Blacks successfully pushed back against the Lions' traditional set-piece and defensive strengths.

In his typically droll fashion, Hansen said Read had done well after his "seven-week holiday" - but backed up his quip by agreeing his captain's ability to perform on the back of a long injury layoff was McCaw-esque.

"They're two different people but, to be the All Blacks' captain, you've got to have a lot of character and courage, and be a fierce warrior," Hansen said.

"Richie showed that over a number of years (and) there's been previous captains who've done that. Now, it's Read's turn to lead the side.

"There was no hesitation in asking him to step up and play and do the role we wanted him to do - that's what an All Blacks captain does."

Read was more modest in his self-assessment, saying only that he did the best he could, and tried to lead the side by example.

He was pleased by his side's ability to wear down the Lions' defensive line speed, opening up the match for Rieko Ioane's two second-half tries.

"It could've gone either way in some stages," Read said.

"The guts and character we showed to hang in there - and when we got our opportunities, we took them in that second half - was pleasing."

With the first Test done and dusted, attention turns to the second Test in Wellington, where the All Blacks can wrap up the series.

Read backed his side to keep focused with the job almost done, having played in plenty of high-stakes matches in the past six years.

But he would have a quiet word with the team, to make sure.

"You can't assume too many things, so we'll certainly be talking about it, but you get a result on Saturday through what you do in the week," Read said.

"As coaches, leaders, we'll talk about that and figure out exactly what we need to do. We'll turn up next week and be as excited, I'm sure."

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