Humble Linfield Park in suburban Christchurch is the venue when Kieran Read begins a momentous rugby year this weekend.

All Blacks captain Read is expected to play 40 minutes for University in a rare club appearance when they face Linwood on Saturday.

It is the first match of the year for the 97-cap No 8, who has spent an extended off-season recovering from wrist surgery.

His last match was the Test win over France in Paris in November.

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Read is expected to attract a sizeable crowd, mirroring the response when former All Blacks greats Richie McCaw and Dan Carter made the occasional turnout in Christchurch club rugby in recent years.

If fit, the 31-year-old will lead the All Blacks in their three-Test series against the touring British and Irish Lions starting in June.

He is poised to become the seventh All Black to play a century of Tests during that series.

The University-Linwood clash will see the return of another Crusader from long-term injury.

Richie Mo'unga is likely to play his first game since breaking a bone in his hand in the opening round against the Brumbies six weeks ago.

-AAP