KIERAN READ HAS been the best rugby player in the world this season, but Ireland managed to restrict his influence yesterday.
The No. 8 still managed to be amongst his team’s top tacklers and, typically, made more passes than any other forward on the pitch. The 28-year-old is so much more than a ball carrier; Read is a playmaker for the All Blacks from the back row.
Among his contributions to the game were calming words to his teammates and decisive contributions to the winning try. Read was to the forefront as a leader, instilling his teammates with the confidence to power to victory in the closing seconds.
Ireland’s disappointment means we have touched very little on the All Blacks record-setting achievement of winning all 14 of their Test matches this season. It is remarkable, particularly considering that they have played the majority of the other best teams in the world.
Read is honoured to be part of the All Blacks team who have made history.
“I don’t think we really focused on that target this whole tour, this whole year. It is going to be nice, guys are going to write about it and certainly say how good we are, also how lucky we were [against Ireland].
“You look back on it in your lifetime and say it’s a pretty proud moment. It’s a tough thing to do and it showed tonight. It’s why nobody has done it before and we are pretty thankful to be that team.”
Read competes in the air against Paul O’Connell. ©INPHO/James Crombie.
Read admits that it will be enjoyable to take some time away from the game now, appreciating time with his family and the chance to switch off after what has been an intense season of winning.
However, the back row is always focused on improving, and says next year will be even tougher for the All Blacks.
You have to adapt and change. If we play like we did this year, next year, teams will get better and certainly adapt to how we play. You have to keep improving, something we have learnt over the years.
“Our job is to go out and win test matches. There is a great bond in this team and I think it has shown. The bench coming on, we can chuck them on and they will do a job. It’s important we keep growing that. You can’t look too far ahead.”
Read is on the shortlist for the IRB World Player of the Year award and has to be considered the favourite based on his consistency of astounding form over the course of the season. Despite becoming a world superstar of the game over the course of the last two years, the Papakura native always highlights team values.
The Crusaders back row has consistently improved since making his international debut against Scotland in 2008 and there is no reason to believe that there isn’t more to come from the most complete player in the game.