Super Rugby: All Blacks captain Kieran Read makes welcome return to training

If spirits at Crusaders training on Monday weren't high enough, the presence of talisman Kieran Read was enough to widen smiles even further.

Already buoyant after their astonishing comeback from 29 points down to defeat the Waratahs on Saturday, the team got an extra boost to see their No. 8 take the field for the first time since undergoing back surgery in December.

"It was a nice surprise for everyone," assistant coach Ronan O'Gara told media.

"It did give all the boys a bit of a lift. He had one or two points to offer which is always valuable information, so it was a really positive Monday."

O'Gara was quick to temper any expectations regarding his return date, stressing there was still plenty of work to be done before Read would be ready to recommence regular rugby activity.

"I don't know if he touched a ball, it was just walking speed today. But I think it's important for him to get back into it."

The 108-cap international has already been ruled out of the All Blacks' upcoming three-test series against France next month, meaning any Super Rugby before July is likely of the question.

Super Rugby: All Blacks captain Kieran Read makes welcome return to training
Photo credit: Photosport

"We just need to make sure we get the building blocks correct, because a player as valuable as him to both here and NZ rugby, you don't want him having any setbacks.

"But it's just great to have him back around the club.

"I think we're lucky that we have a brilliant medical team here that will ensure that no stone will be unturned by the time he takes to the pitch."

Another rare participant in Monday's session was lock Luke Romano.

The All Blacks forward, who earlier this season raised his century of game's for the franchise, is said to be ahead of his initial timetable for recovery from his high ankle sprain.

However, O'Gara again preached patience, indicating he's still "a bit off" being available for selection.

"He did some running but it was more straight line than any evasiveness. Hopefully there's no reaction and maybe Wednesday or Thursday he'll go again."

Meanwhile the news is more promising for breakthrough back Manasa Mataele, who O'Gara says has recovered well from the head knock which saw him leave the field late on Saturday.

The Fijian passed his mandatory Head Injury Assessment (HIA) immediately following the match, and now needs to pass the follow-up test on Thursday to confirm his availability next weekend.

Fullback Israel Dagg is also tracking well after injuring his knee against the Brumbies, taking part in a light game of touch.

The Crusaders will be looking to make it eight straight wins when they head north to take on the struggling Blues at Eden Park on Saturday.