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Read wants All Blacks to stamp their mark

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 3/06/2016
Kieran Read © Phil Walter/Getty Images for NZRU Kieran Read

Skipper Kieran Read wants the new-look All Blacks squad to leave their imprint on the upcoming three-Test rugby series against Wales.

Read, 30, has taken over as captain from retired great Richie McCaw, one of several players who hung up their boots or headed overseas after last year's successful defence of the World Cup.

With 84 Tests under his belt, the Crusaders No.8 is the most experienced member of a 32-strong squad containing six new faces.

The players dispersed on Friday after an initial camp in Auckland and will reassemble on Monday ahead of the first Test at Eden Park next Saturday night.

"It's an exciting time and obviously a few changes in the team," Read said.

"We've got a great opportunity as a group, as an All Black team, to really stamp our mark.

"You would have seen through Super Rugby there's so much excitement, talent around this country, which is awesome, so it's all about pulling in the right direction."

Read echoed the sentiments of coach Steve Hansen, who said at the squad announcement last Sunday that the All Blacks were intent on taking their game to different level.

"The All Blacks have such a high standard," Read said.

"We can't just live there. We really have to push ourselves so that we can actually take this team to another level."

Read said New Zealand had the talent to do that, but it would also take a lot of work, because Test football wasn't a case of simply turning up and having things happen.

He expected the Welsh, like the other Northern Hemisphere teams, would have a go at the All Blacks up front.

"It's one area where we will have to be really strong," he said.

"Then hopefully we can really impart a strong game plan and use the skill sets that we certainly do have out in the backs."

While he has assumed the captaincy, Read joked that some things didn't change with his teammates.

"They're still giving me a bit of grief about most things."

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