The All Blacks will take a wait and see approach over whether to bring back influential No.
8 Kieran Read for the second Test against England.
Coach Steve Hansen says Read, who missed New Zealand’s 20-15 win in Auckland, has got over his concussion problems and has been training well, and the issue now is one of match fitness.
“He did an hour and a half yesterday with no signs or symptoms,” Hansen said on Sunday.
“It’s just a matter, with all the lack of games, whether we chuck him back in or we actually do the safer thing and give him a week’s more training and build him up and save him for the last Test.”
The 61-cap Read, the 2013 IRB player of the year, suffered his second concussion of the year in mid-April when skippering the Crusaders against the Chiefs.
He made his return to Super Rugby against the Western Force the week before the June international window, playing 80 minutes.
However, he complained of not feeling the best last Monday and was withdrawn from selection for the first match of the three-Test series against England.
Hansen said winger Julian Savea, who was also sidelined because of a knee injury, should be available for the Dunedin Test next Saturday night.
“He’s feeling a lot better,” Hansen said.
“Again, we will have to wait and see what he’s like once he starts running on that knee.”
For the second Test, England are expected to include a number of players who sat out game one because of their late arrival after playing in English Premiership final.
As for the All Blacks, Hansen has indicated a policy of continuity in selection and any changes would be based on how players are travelling, physically and mentally, at this stage of the season.
“There’s no point in making changes for change’s sake,” he said.
“The big thing we won’t do is panic. We actually won the Test match.”
Hansen said the All Blacks knew they had to improve, but so did England.
“They have the luxury of having fresh legs,” he said.
“But at the same time, they have to re-introduce them back into their game.”
The encounter at Eden Park was a tight, grinding affair in which England belied their underdog statues to run the All Blacks close.
It needed a late Conrad Smith try for the home side to come out on top and maintain an unbeaten run at the ground dating back 20 years.
Hansen is predicting another big battle at Forsyth Barr Stadium, saying: “It’s going to be a ripper.”