Read new All Blacks captain
All Blacks coach Steve Hansen has confirmed the first of his major rebuilding decisions following back-to-back World Cup victories with the expected naming of Kieran Read as the next New Zealand captain, replacing the retired Richie McCaw.
The 35-year-old McCaw, named as the 2015 New Zealander of the Year earlier this week, retired at the end of last year after leading the All Blacks to successive World Cup triumphs.
"Reado's had experience already as captain nine times," Hansen said. "While it will be a new experience to be there full-time, at least he's had a taste of it."
Hansen, who said he was more than likely to step down after next year's Lions tour, has been rebuilding the side since he took over in 2012 and now has a core of players boasting more than 30 caps.
The 30-year-old Read's anointment to the second-highest profile job in New Zealand, behind that of the rugby-mad country's Prime Minister, had been on the cards for at least three years.
He first led the team on their end-of-year northern hemisphere tour in 2012, when they beat Italy 42-10. The rangy No 8 then stepped into the role three times against France in 2013, when McCaw was on a six-month sabbatical, and again three times later that year when the regular skipper was out injured.
Read also led the team once at last year's World Cup, against Tonga in Newcastle.
Sam Cane, McCaw's understudy since 2012, is likely to take over as openside flanker.
The 24-year-old, who has already notched up 31 Tests, has also led the side, against Namibia at the World Cup.
Auckland Blues' Akira Ioane and Wellington Hurricanes' Ardie Savea likely to join the All Blacks squad after their Olympics sevens commitments.
Savea is the younger brother of All Blacks winger Julian.