WELLINGTON (Reuters) - New Zealand captain Kieran Read will miss the Rugby Championship test against Argentina in Buenos Aires next week, instead joining the team for their final match of the competition in South Africa.
“We always had a plan to manage Kieran’s long-haul travel this year following his return to rugby after back surgery,” coach Steve Hansen said of the 32-year-old number eight. “We don’t want to have him sitting in a plane too long.
“When you go to Argentina, then to South Africa, there’s a short turnaround and not a great ride from Argentina to South Africa. So the smart play is to leave him at home and send him straight to Africa.”
The side left New Zealand for Argentina on Friday and loose forward Vaea Fifita, who was not in the original Rugby Championship squad, has been called in for the South American leg of the trip.
Hooker Dane Coles, who had initially been targeted to return for the final two games of the southern hemisphere championship, has also been left out of the squad.
He has yet to play since rupturing knee ligaments against France on New Zealand’s end-of-season tour last year.
Brodie Retallick (shoulder) and Ngani Laumape (knee), who were under injury clouds, have also been omitted from the travelling squad.
The All Blacks, who lead the standings on 16 points after four games, face Argentina in Buenos Aires on Sept. 30 before meeting the Springboks in Pretoria on Oct. 6.
They were beaten 36-34 by the Springboks in Wellington and Hansen said his team had not lost in the final few minutes when they were well-positioned to take a match-winning drop goal opportunity, but probably earlier in the game.
“Our game management was next to zero,” Hansen said. “It’s partly the leadership, and it’s partly my fault because I haven’t given them enough understanding of what to do.
“All we had do was take a big breath, maybe take a shot at goal in the 66th minute, then score a try, and that gives you the eight points you need to get in front.
“No one is going to get hung out to dry because of a loss. We’ve all got to learn from it, and move on.”
Forwards - Codie Taylor, Nathan Harris, Liam Coltman, Owen Franks, Tim Perry, Karl Tu’inukuafe, Ofa Tuungafasi, Angus Ta’avao, Sam Whitelock, Scott Barrett, Patrick Tuipulotu, Sam Cane, Shannon Frizell, Jackson Hemopo, Vaea Fifita#, Ardie Savea, Luke Whitelock, Kieran Read*.
Backs - TJ Perenara, Aaron Smith, Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi, Beauden Barrett, Damian McKenzie, Richie Mo’unga, Anton Lienert-Brown, Sonny Bill Williams, Ryan Crotty, Jack Goodhue, Jordie Barrett, Rieko Ioane, Nehe Milner-Skudder, Waisake Naholo, Ben Smith.
* South Africa only
# Argentina only
Reporting by Greg Stutchbury; Editing by John O'Brien