Rugby union: All Blacks boost as captain Read fit to face Lions, says Whitelock

Kieran Read being tackled by Tatafu Polota Nau (left) and Michael Hooper during the Bledisloe Cup rugby union Test between Australia and New Zealand in Brisbane on Oct 20, 2012. PHOTO: AFP

AUCKLAND (AFP) - All Blacks captain Kieran Read has overcome a thumb injury and will face the British and Irish Lions in the first Test in Auckland, team-mate Sam Whitelock said.

The No. 8 Read was sidelined with a broken thumb in April but Whitelock said he was now "ready to go".

"He'll hopefully bring that Kieran Read way of playing, he'll lead from the front," Whitelock told reporters.

"It's awesome when he does that and he plays great rugby when he's being himself and taking the lead."

While throwing a player straight into a Test series after an injury could be considered risky, Whitelock said Read had prepared meticulously to meet the Lions at Eden Park on Saturday.

"He's always targeted this game to get back. He's had time to get his head around it," the second-rower said.

"He's been working really hard with the trainer and physios to get right for this game. When he gets that opportunity, he'll take it with both hands."

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