Wellington - All Blacks captain Kieran Read is set for a lengthy spell on the sidelines after undergoing surgery on a wrist injury.
Read is expected to return to action for the Crusaders in
April, two months before the start of the British and Irish Lions tour to New
New Crusaders head coach Scott Robertson revealed Read's
recovery time on Monday before Sam Whitelock was officially unveiled as the
Christchurch-based franchise's captain for the 2017 season.
Read played with a brace on his right hand during the All
Blacks' recent end-of-year tour is currently undergoing rehabilitation after he
had an operation last week.
An April return will give Read a maximum of seven matches
before the start of the 2017 Lions tour and he could also face the tourists
when the Crusaders host them in Christchurch on June 10 - two weeks before the
first Test in Auckland on June 24.
Although Read's injury lay-off meant the Crusaders would
need a stand-in skipper during the early rounds of Robertson's tenure, the
seven-time Super Rugby champions' boss opted to make Whitelock the team's
permanent captain to allow Read to concentrate on his leadership role with the
"It was a decision that worked itself out really,"
Robertson told Stuff.
"With Reado's wrist injury, and him being an
established All Black captain doing a great job, it was a chance for us to
bring Sam in and balance that workload."
Robertson revealed that he was thinking of changing the
captaincy since July and had spoken to Read, Whitelock and All Blacks coach
Steve Hansen about the issue and all
were receptive of the idea.
"We (Robertson and Read) had a good open discussion, he'd thought about it himself," he added.
"It wasn't something new or a surprise. He was really
understanding. He'd have loved to have carried on but he understood it's
probably the best thing for him and the team."
Hansen also endorsed the leadership change.
"He said the balance was right," explained
"It was a pretty short conversation."