Read ready to return
Crusaders skipper Kieran Read has recovered from a foot injury and will be in the selection mix for Saturday's clash with the Blues in Christchurch.
That is the word from Crusaders assistant coach Dave Hewett, who said Read is back to full fitness and ready to return to action.
The All Blacks number eight hasn't played since scans revealed that he had suffered a partial tear of ligaments to one of his big toes during the Crusaders' 55-20 win over the Kings in Round six.
"He's looking pretty good at the moment,'' Hewett told Fairfax Media.
"At this stage he's on schedule to be selectable this week and it's just a case of him being able to get through the medical side of things and getting through a full week of training.
"If he can get through that then he is all good to go.''
It is still unclear whether Read will be included in the starting line-up or if he will be on the replacements bench this weekend.
Luke Whitelcok has gone from strength to strength as Read's replacement which means Crusaders boss Todd Blackadder could continue with George Whitelock in the captaincy role.
"George has been immense for us, he's just the ultimate professional rugby player,'' Hewett added.
But Read's return is a timely boost for the seven-times champions as they are pushing to secure a play-off berth.
"Kieran is a great player, and regardless of the colour of the jersey he has on he is always going to perform to the top level, so the rest of the boys are going to feed off that," said Hewett.
"He brings a lot to the team both on and off the field, and from a players point of view he brings that leadership quality that we need.''