All Blacks captain Kieran Read has returned to full contact training and should be fit for the first Test against the British & Irish Lions this Saturday.
Read has not played since breaking his right thumb and undergoing surgery in late April, but assistant coach Ian Foster said his recovery was going well.
'We're pretty satisfied. He has had his first real solid hit out with contact and hopefully he comes through that well. He doesn't want to miss it. He's desperate to play. He's our leader.
'We have other people who could do a job but to have “Reado” back would be a real boost for us.'
Photo: Anthony Au-Yeung/Getty