All Blacks and Crusaders captain Kieran Read has been ruled out for up to four months with a wrist injury.
Read has been managing a recurring wrist injury for a while now and played with a brace on his right hand throughout the All Blacks' recent end-of-year tour.
The 31-year-old underwent surgery last week and has been given a recovery time-frame of four months. He is expected to return to action for the Crusaders in Aprill, two months before the start of the British and Irish Lions tour to New Zealand.
If Read does return April, he is aiming for at least seven Super Rugby matches before the British and Irish Lions' first Test against the All Blacks in Auckland on 24 June.
On Monday, coach Scott Robertson officially appointed lock Sam Whitelock as Crusaders captain for the 2017 season in Read's absence.
'It was a decision that worked itself out really,' Robertson said. 'With Reado’s wrist injury, and him being an established All Black captain doing a great job, it was a chance for us to bring Sam in and balance that workload.'
Robertson revealed that he was thinking of changing the captaincy since July and had spoken to Read, Whitelock and All Blacks coach Steve Hansen about the issue.
'We had a good open discussion. It wasn’t something new or a surprise. He (Read) was really understanding. He’d have loved to have carried on but he understood it’s probably the best thing for him and the team,' added Robertson.
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