One of Kieran Read's major jobs this week has been keeping his relatively youthful All Black team calm.

The bigger the challenge the bigger the opportunity for Read and his young men, and in his case, usually the bigger the smile when he runs out on to the pitch in preparation for the national anthem.

This time, on the occasion of his 100th test, in a series-defining match, it might be that much wider.

There were no signs of nerves at the end of the All Blacks' final training run at Eden Park this afternoon - from Read or from his team.


Lions coach Warren Gatland banned photographers from his team's final shake-down, but the home team has welcomed them and Read even gave them a bit extra - posing for pictures on the sideline, a record of his achievement and a sign of his professionalism.

There has been an extra frisson about the All Blacks this week after last weekend's defeat, their first at home for eight years, but no raising of any metaphorical drawbridges before this test at their fortress.

Team New Zealand's Peter Burling met the team in the Eden Park changing room, the young skipper, 26, drawing spontaneous applause from the crowd on the eve of the 31-year-old Read's biggest test at a different sort of helm.

"He's a good man, we've had him in before," Read said of Burling. "The boys were pretty pumped about what his team could do with the America's Cup and bringing it back. We just wanted to congratulate him."

It will take a good performance to get a victory over the visitors, but one senses a victory would be far more important to Read than a good performance.

"We weren't really happy with the way we played last week so certainly we've got to make a change... the boys are pretty confident with what we've got in our group," he said. "It's a pretty exciting challenge. It doesn't get any better than playing at Eden Park in what is in a sense a final.

Read said he had received a few extra messages before his milestone, but "to be honest, it's a team thing and I'll get my joy out of it by going out there and getting the win.

"The All Black captaincy is pretty special to me. I certainly respect it and want to honour it the best I can and the best way to do that is to be myself.

"It has ramped up a little bit which is expected. There are a few guys used to it so you have to impart your knowledge of what these moments do mean to teams."

As a kid growing up in Papakura playing his own tests in his backyard, Read had no idea how far he could come. "As a kid you just want to play for the All Blacks," said the man who made his test debut in Edinburgh in 2008. "That was the dream and it's pretty awesome to be living the reality right now.

"It's a pretty cool place to be, mate. I didn't expect to be in this position. The biggest thing for me is to do my bit and help the team and get the win."

There was another interested spectator floating around today - one Richie McCaw, now a former great, but still a good friend of Read's. The pair used to wear out the parallel trails on the Rugby Park pitch in Christchurch so close and so hard-working were they, but, on the eve of Read's biggest test, McCaw will keep a bit of distance.

Read said: "He'll probably stay away and let me do my thing... but I know I have his support."