Read out of all NZ semi-final
Sportal.co.nz 24 Jul 2012 Getty Images
Read trained alone at the Crusaders' light practice in Christchurch on Monday, jogging and doing stretching exercises, but coach Todd Blackadder decided to make an early call and will stay with the same loose forward trio that dominated the Bulls in their 28-13 win at AMI Stadium on Saturday.
That means Richie McCaw wears the No.8 jersey with openside flanker Matt Todd and blindside George Whitelock on either side of the scrum.
Blackadder said that by making a prompt decision the Crusaders could prepare without any question marks hovering over them.
"Richie is one of those guys who is hugely experienced and if anything It has been quite good for him. He's certainly bringing physical presence and he's played really well at No.8 though he's naturally a No.7," Blackadder said.
"He's been outstanding, but I'm proud of our loose forward trio. They're really putting their hand up and playing really well."
Read, who confirmed he had suffered a rib fracture against the Chiefs in round 17, said he was determined to return if the Crusaders can make the final a week later against either the Stormers or the Sharks.
"I'm definitely improving, but it is still a bit niggly. I'm able to do a few more things this week and can run around so hopefully another week will make a big difference.
"If we're involved in a final I'll definitely be there and ready to go."
Meanwhile Read will lend a supporting hand to his teammates.
"I'm just focusing on getting the boys prepared as much as I can and be pretty much a sounding board. I'll do a bit of coaching with the coaches and try and get the guys on song."
Read said he had complete faith in the Crusaders loose forwards.
"Richie is going great at No.8. He's really stepped up his game, especially last week, but the loose forward trio are all great players.
"I've played a lot with them earlier in the year so I'm excited for them and hope they can do it one more time."
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