Richie McCaw's break next year has opened up opportunities for several in the All Blacks squad, including Kieran Read, the obvious choice to take over his captaincy role.

No8 Read is already one of the most important cogs in the All Blacks machine - he is one of the best in the world in his position - and his stocks will rise even higher during McCaw's absence from next year's three June internationals against France.

Sam Cane is a young openside flanker with a big future, but he like the rest of the All Blacks, is likely to be turning to Read for leadership and the man himself would be happy with the extra responsibility.

"I'd love to. It would be a huge honour for myself and everyone involved in my career. I guess I just have to see what happens and enjoy playing this year," he said.


Asked what he would bring to the role, Read replied: "I'd offer who I am and do what's best for the team. That's what I'm about."

Although he has extensive captaincy experience with Canterbury and the Crusaders, Read has never officially lead the All Blacks but he often calls the shots if McCaw is otherwise occupied on the field.

Still only 26 but with 42 tests behind him, he has a presence which several years ago marked him as McCaw's heir apparent.

That experience will be crucial for his team in Sunday's (NZT) Rugby Championship match against Argentina at La Plata, near Buenos Aires.

"They're expecting a massive crowd and a lot of noise to play in front of.

"I slept 40 minutes last night [due to different time zone]. That's all I got after I went to bed. I had to take a wee pill, so some of us are still struggling with lack of sleep and different things but we're training well. We'll be fizzing by Saturday which is the key."

Read said he had played in an under-21 tournament in Mendoza before so knew a little about what to expect on Sunday. The caller of the All Blacks' lineouts, he said the forwards had plans in case the crowd noise made the calls too hard to hear.

The All Blacks trained in cool conditions at St George's College in Buenos Aires yesterday and have a day off today.

* Patrick McKendry flew to Argentina courtesy of LAN Airlines (