New Zealand captain Kieran Read might take sabbatical ahead of World Cup 2019

Kieran Read has been capped 97 times for the All Blacks
Kieran Read has been capped 97 times for the All Blacks

New Zealand Rugby Union (NZRU) chief executive Steve Tew said the board is considering to give sabbatical to All Blacks skipper Kieran Read ahead of the 2019 World Cup in Japan.

The Crusaders number eight is just three matches short of playing his 100th Test for the All Blacks and might take a leaf out of former skipper Richie McCaw's book, who had a six-month break before the 2013 World Cup.

Tew said the NZRU will ensure the players will be fresh and in right mindset ahead of their title defence in Japan.

“We’ve proven over a long period of time now that we’ll sit down with each player and, within reason, be incredibly flexible.

“If that’s what any player wanted and we believed it merited in terms of their tenure and loyalty, and their workload, we’d consider that.”

The 31-year-old is currently recovering from a finger surgery and has been ruled out of the Super Rugby clashes until April. Crusaders have named Read's All Blacks team-mate Sam Whitelock as the captain for the upcoming season.

Crusaders head coach Scott Robertson said the management wanted a full time captain as he feels it will be benefit both the players and also the club.

“Sam captained the team at the beginning of last season, until Kieran Read’s return. But this year we want him to fully step into the role,” said Robertson.

“Kieran has been an excellent captain, he is a courageous leader who the players admire and love, but this will allow Kieran to focus on just playing and enjoying himself in the Crusaders environment, rather than juggling the responsibility of being both All Blacks and BNZ Crusaders captain.

“It will also allow Sam to really take ownership of this position and influence the team in his own way.”