Former All Blacks captain to join PIC Steelers for Mitre 10 Cup season

The Counties Manukau Rugby Football Union has today confirmed the signing of former All Blacks captain Kieran Read for the upcoming Mitre 10 Cup season.

Read, who hails from the South Auckland region and played his junior rugby with the proud Drury club, retired from the international game after last year’s World Cup.

The 128-test All Black then signed on with Toyota Verblitz in Japan’s Top League. He will play another season there in 2021 but before returning overseas has agreed to terms with the PIC Steelers – a team he supported growing up.

“While I played a lot of my representative rugby in Christchurch, my roots will always be in Counties Manukau,” the former Rosehill College student said.

“I remember going along to games in Pukekohe as a kid and while I’ve been aligned with the province in recent years, my All Blacks commitments have meant I’ve never actually had the chance to pull on the red, black and white hoops in a Mitre 10 Cup game.

“I’m really excited about the upcoming season and about the prospect of playing provincial rugby in front of my family and friends at Navigation Homes Stadium in the community I grew up in.”

Read, who is based in Christchurch, will link up with the PIC Steelers ahead of their team camp in Ohope in a fortnight’s time and is expected to take part in a pre-season game against Bay of Plenty in Whakatane on September 4.

“Obviously it’s been a while since I’ve had a run so I’m looking forward to getting stuck in again,” Read added.

“I’ve had some good conversations with Steelers head coach Tai Lavea and I’m really excited about the squad he’s been able to assemble.

“If I can help in any way with these up-and-coming young rugby players that would be fantastic too.”

CMRFU CEO Aaron Lawton said Read’s signing was a huge boost for not only the province but also the Mitre 10 Cup in general.

“One of the positives in what has been a tough year with COVID-19 has been the real resurgence of fan interest in rugby again,” Lawton said.

“It’s also meant some amazingly talented rugby players have found themselves back in New Zealand and itching to play.

“Never in a million years would we have thought at the start of the year when we were beginning to put together our squad that a player of Kieran’s calibre would be available.

“We are beyond excited about having him on deck this year and are hoping our rugby community really get behind him and the PIC Steelers.”