England tour of New Zealand: Kieran Read ruled out of first Test in Eden Park as Kiwis also have injury doubt over talented wing Julian Savea

New Zealand have also seen flanker Sam Cane ruled out for the three-match series due to a knee injury as Steven Luatua and Matt Todd join squad

England's prospects of delivering an unlikely victory in Saturday's first Test against New Zealand have improved after Kieran Read was ruled out of the series opener at Eden Park.

All Blacks head coach Steve Hansen revealed that Read, who has been sidelined since April with concussion, woke up on Monday morning "not feeling the best".

The reigning International Rugby Board player of the year made his comeback for the Crusaders on Saturday only to subsequently suffer a recurrence of the symptoms that have troubled him for the last month.

A doubt now hangs over the number eight's involvement in the series, while prolific wing Julian Savea is also a doubt for the opener due to a knee problem.

"We're not prepared to risk him playing and that's our decision, not his, and we'll progress that day by day," Hansen said of Read's situation.

"Long term I'm not too concerned, but we're just not prepared risk him this week.

"He's frustrated, as you would be, but we're very lucky we've got capable people who can fill his place.

"Jerome Kaino and Victor Vito have been performing very well and Liam Messam is an incumbent. We've got some good people to step up."

Read more: Cipriani intends to leave troubled past behind
Waller heads final battle survivors to join England
Vunipola ruled out with dislocated knee-cap

Steven Luatua has been drafted into New Zealand's training squad for Saturday to cover for Read.

The All Blacks have also lost openside Sam Cane to a knee injury for the series, although he was not expected to feature in the match-day 23. Matt Todd has been called up to plug the gap.

Savea will undergo a scan on Tuesday, with a decision on his availability made in time for Thursday's team announcement.

Read's loss will be keenly felt with the free-roaming back row among New Zealand's most influential players, but Hansen refuses to overstate the impact his absence will have.

"Losing players is only disruptive if we allow it to be. Rugby is a contact sport, we're going to have people get injured and we just have to deal with that," Hansen said.

New Zealand's unfamiliarity with English rugby was evident on Tuesday when lock Brodie Retallick was unable to name one member of Stuart Lancaster's touring party.

Asked if he knew any England player ahead of Saturday's series opener, Retallick responded "a couple". When pressed for a name, the second row said "Michael Lawes".

Retallick appeared to be mean Courtney Lawes, who is en route to New Zealand having helped Northampton win the Aviva Premiership final last weekend and is unavailable for the first Test.

Local bookmakers have installed New Zealand as overwhelming 1/16 favourites to prevail at Eden Park with England rated 8-1 underdogs.

"Everyone is expecting a massive match, physically and in skill terms. It will be a tough match," Retallick said.

"We've only had one week together as a team. We need to start well and carry on from there. We don't want a rusty start and then be playing catch-up footy."

PA

Sport
footballHe started just four months ago
News
Nigel Farage celebrates with a pint after early local election results in the Hoy and Helmet pub in South Benfleet in Essex
peopleHe has shaped British politics 'for good or ill'
News
One father who couldn't get One Direction tickets for his daughters phoned in a fake bomb threat and served eight months in a federal prison
people... (and one very unlucky giraffe)
Arts and Entertainment
Sink the Pink's 2013 New Year's Eve party
musicFour of Britain's top DJs give their verdict on how to party into 2015
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
(L-R) Amanda Peet as Tina Morris, Melanie Lynskey as Michelle Pierson, Abby Ryder Fortson as Sophie Pierson, Mark Duplass as Brett Pierson and Steve Zissis as Alex Pappas in Togetherness
TV First US networks like HBO shook up drama - now it's comedy's turn
News
i100
Travel
Pool with a view: the mMarina Bay Sands in Singapore
travel From Haiti and Alaska to Namibia and Iceland
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Aren’t you glad you didn’t say that? The worst wince-and-look-away quotes of the year

Aren’t you glad you didn’t say that?

The worst wince-and-look-away quotes of the year
Hollande's vanity project is on a high-speed track to the middle of nowhere

Vanity project on a high-speed track to nowhere

France’s TGV network has become mired in controversy
Sports Quiz of the Year

Sports Quiz of the Year

So, how closely were you paying attention during 2014?
Alexander Armstrong on insulting Mary Berry, his love of 'Bargain Hunt', and life as a llama farmer

Alexander Armstrong on insulting Mary Berry and his love of 'Bargain Hunt'

From Armstrong and Miller to Pointless
Sanchez helps Gunners hold on after Giroud's moment of madness

Sanchez helps Gunners hold on

Olivier Giroud's moment of madness nearly costs them
A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect