All Blacks legend Kieran Read puts his boots on for one last time

David Skippers
Kieran Read NZ RWC 2019 - Alamy.jpg

Former All Blacks captain and number eight Kieran Read.

Legendary All Blacks and Crusaders number eight Kieran Read is set to make a return to action when he makes an appearance in the Southland Charity Hospital’s Pack the Park 2024 charity match.

The 36-year-old, who was crowned World Rugby Player of the Year in 2013 and made 127 Test appearances for New Zealand between 2008 and 2019, is the first big player announcement for the highly anticipated encounter which will take place at Southland’s Rugby Park Stadium headquarters in Invercargill on January 27.

Hospital founder Melissa Vining is hoping Southlanders fill Rugby Park Stadium for the event and she couldn’t hide her delight that Read has agreed to participate in the match.

“I’m excited that the cat’s finally out of the bag about him,” she told Stuff. “He’s one of many exciting player announcements.”

Captaincy candidate

Captains for the two teams involved in Pack the Park 2024 will be announced on Friday, and Read, who was asked to participate in the event by former All Blacks team-mate and Southland rugby legend Corey Flynn, is a strong contender when the Blair Vining XV face a talented Invitational XV, comprising of a selection of rugby players from all around New Zealand.

The first Pack the Park match took place in October 2020 as a bucket list game for Vining’s husband – the late Blair Vining – and as a fundraiser for the hospital, and the 2024 encounter is to say thank you to the community for helping to make it a reality.

Tickets for the upcoming charity match are free, but must be booked through Ticketek.

Vining said the grandstand and family area was booked out by Tuesday, but there were still tickets available for the terraces.

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