Kieran Read is a southern man at heart. That is why, before the most significant game of his career, he was reluctant to talk up his Auckland roots today.
In Richie McCaw’s absence, Read wants to leave his mark when he captains the All Blacks for the first time on home soil against the French tomorrow night.
Expect him to lead through his actions. His relentless attitude, rather than inspiring speeches, is his major asset.
“I’ve had to think about a few more things than I normally would, but it hasn’t affected what I’m trying do as a player,” he said.
“I just want to do my role and do it exceptionally well.”
The captaincy duties are not unfamiliar to Read. He has long been an inspirational figure for the Crusaders and, in Rome last year, had a successful dry run of sorts.
The stakes of this World Cup final rematch, though, are another step up.
I expect a massive challenge, especially up front,” Read said.
“I think they’ve been working away on their scrum and it’s always their biggest threat, so we’ll expect that to come from them.
“We always respect the French and expect them be on their game every test. We know they’ve been waiting a long time for this and will be looking forward to a big challenge.”
In French captain Thierry Dusautoir, Read needs look no further for an example of quality leadership.
Dusautoir’s focus this week has been diminishing the aura around the All Blacks.
“Our main problem in France, we are lost in admiration for the All Blacks,” he said.
“The great part of our preparation is to think it’s a team like any other one. We have worked on this I hope we are going to perform and have a great game.”