Wellington - All Blacks captain Kieran Read has played his
first match this year after recovering from back surgery, making an appearance
for Counties Manukau province.
Read, who hasn't played since New Zealand's Test against
Scotland last November, played 40 minutes of a pre-season match for Counties in
a 26-26 draw with Tasman province.
Both teams play in the first division of New Zealand's
National Provincial Championship.
Read told reporters after the match "my body is
actually OK - it is a bit tired. Today really was just to go out and get a bit
of contact, take a few hits, make some tackles and really just enjoy the
Read is now in line to rejoin the Christchurch-based
Crusaders as the Super Rugby season heads towards playoffs.