Time is right to give Kieran Read a week off.

The All Blacks skipper has played 12 games in 14 weeks since returning from a broken thumb that saw him run out for the first test of the British and Irish Lions series having not played for eight weeks.

However it's not just that he's played that amount of games in that time frame as to why he should be rested this week.

Let's start with the significance of those dozen encounters.


After playing every minute of the physically and mentally taxing Lions series, Read played the last four games of the Crusaders victorious Super Rugby campaign.

Those were a final round game with the Hurricanes - another high level, high paced New Zealand derby - followed by three contrasting but no less intense playoff games including two against kiwi opposition and a final on the road at altitude in Johannesburg.

He's followed that with five Rugby Championship tests in which he's played 392 minutes; the only playing time missed due to a rare lapse in tackle technique that saw him yellow carded against the Pumas on the weekend.

Since his return on June 24, Read's performances have been top drawer - industrious, robust, skill laden and accurate - precisely what most expect from an All Blacks captain.

His captaincy continues to improve and he did an excellent job last week leading a younger group, minus four of his deputies, through the various complexities that test week in Buenos Aires presents.

With three of those senior leaders returning week - Sam Whitelock, Sam Cane and Ryan Crotty - the All Blacks have all bar one of the senior leadership group in the mix; two if you chose start Lima Sopoaga and use Beauden Barrett either off the bench or rest him completely, as he was scheduled to do last week.

In terms of the loose forwards mix, they have the depth and versatility to cover a resting Read.

The selectors could start Liam Squire at number eight and give a highly motivated Jerome Kaino an opportunity to regain some lost on-field status, having spent the last five weeks watching Squire and Vaea Fifita primarily - Scott Barrett temporarily - perform very well on the blindside.

The All Blacks selectors have been resting key personnel over the course of the last month with just two exemptions and that would have been one had Beauden Barrett stayed at home as originally planned.

There's no doubt Kieran Read, driven and highly competitive athlete that he is, will hate this suggestion.

However Steve Hansen continually talks about keeping players fresh to perform right throughout the season as well as growing this particular group.

Playing a test away from home without the captain would help to achieve both.

Nigel Yalden is on tour with the All Blacks thanks to Air New Zealand