All Blacks captain Kieran Read suffers broken thumb

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) All Blacks captain Kieran Read may be sidelined for up to six weeks in the lead-up to the test series against the British and Irish Lions after suffering a broken thumb during the Crusaders’ Super Rugby match against South Africa’s Cheetahs on Saturday.

Read, who left the field in the 38th minute of the match at Bloemfontein, is expected to undergo surgery within days and the length of his recuperation will be better known when the operation has been completed.

He appears to face a race against time to be fit for the first test against the Lions on June 24.

Speaking after the match, Crusaders coach Scott Robertson said ”I expect the whole of New Zealand will be worried” about Read’s injury. Read made a late return to Super Rugby this season and has played only three matches after recovering from wrist surgery.

He joins a growing list of All Blacks battling injuries ahead of the Lions series. Read’s backrow partner Jerome Kaino is sidelined for several weeks after having surgery to repair a knee injury and vice-captain Ben Smith is out of action with a sprained ankle.