It's been a good few days for Kieran Read - high impact and illustrative of how he's grown more comfortable in his role as All Blacks captain.

He might not even realise it, given that he's still rehabilitating after wrist surgery and not returning to action until mid-April, but he has made his presence felt nonetheless.

Leading the All Blacks is not a job that anyone ever has or ever will wriggle into and find everything fits snugly. The incumbent needs to provide an element of continuity while simultaneously establishing their own way of doing things.

For all that Read was influenced and mentored by his predecessor, Richie McCaw, the new man at the helm has been conscious that he can't be a clone. It is not an easy balance to strike and Read, smartly, deduced that he was inheriting a culture and environment that was largely working and that year one in the job, he'd be best erring on the side of evolution rather than revolution.


But having had 12 months in the job and a long summer to reflect, he, consciously or not, has entered year two with a greater desire to mark his territory, so to speak.

Get ready for the era of Read is the subliminal message that has emerged. Asked about Steven Luatua's decision to sign for Bristol, Read answered with the same clarity of purpose with which he takes the ball up off the back of the scrum.

He made it clear that he was disappointed and questioned why Luatua wants to grind through the English mud for the next 10 years.

He softened it slightly with an each to their own comment, but only slightly. It was direct and honest and mercifully free of cliche.

At the risk of reading too much into it, what the directness of his answer alluded to was the new-found sense of comfort Read feels within the group.

He was willing to indulge in a bit of up-the-guts calling it how it is, understanding that such honesty only wins respect.

As much as it was a genuine reaction to a genuine source of disappointment - it also served as a veiled warning that the skipper won't make it easy for anyone who walks away from the challenge of fighting for a test jersey.

McCaw went through a similar transition in the wake of the 2007 Rugby World Cup travesty. He thought about giving it away - so fierce was his disappointment - but eventually settled on returning to the coal face with a hardened attitude that empowered him to set the standards and demand that everyone live up to them.

The other telling play from Read was his honesty around his ongoing contract negotiation.

He didn't bother trying to create any intrigue or mystery. He hadn't signed a contract extension yet but he would - just as soon as the detail was finalised.

Again, the message was clear; he's here for the long haul because the job means everything to him and he's beginning to feel just a little more comfortable with his ability to do it.