New Zealand head coach Steve Hansen revealed that All Blacks skipper Kieran Read is unlikely to feature in the upcoming Test series against France in June after failing to make sufficient recovery from a back injury.
Read sustained the injury at the end of New Zealand's European tour last year and underwent a surgery. He was initially expected to return in April but now his comeback has been postponed further with Hansen insisting that the team management does not want to take any chance with the World Cup around the corner.
"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 to Radio Sport.
"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."
Crusaders head coach Scott Robertson also stated that he is expecting the 32-year-old to return to action post-June and insisted that there will not be any pressure on Read to make a return early.
"Just to make it easier for him and to be really clear, there is no race for him to be there," Robertson told Stuff.
"It is going to be post-June when he is ready."
The three-game series between New Zealand and France will take place between 9th and 23rd June with Auckland, Wellington and Dunedin being the venues.