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

BUY RUGBY WORLD CUP TICKETS

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

The long walk west: they fled war in Syria, only to get held up in Hungary – now hundreds of refugees have set off on foot for Austria

They fled war in Syria...

...only to get stuck and sidetracked in Hungary
From The Prisoner to Mad Men, elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series

Title sequences: From The Prisoner to Mad Men

Elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series. But why does the art form have such a chequered history?
Giorgio Armani Beauty's fabric-inspired foundations: Get back to basics this autumn

Giorgio Armani Beauty's foundations

Sumptuous fabrics meet luscious cosmetics for this elegant look
From stowaways to Operation Stack: Life in a transcontinental lorry cab

Life from the inside of a trucker's cab

From stowaways to Operation Stack, it's a challenging time to be a trucker heading to and from the Continent
Kelis interview: The songwriter and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell and crying over potatoes

Kelis interview

The singer and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell
Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea