All Blacks confident Read will start Lions series

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New Zealand coach Steve Hansen expects to have captain Kieran Read available for the first Test against the British and Irish Lions.

Read has not played since breaking a thumb in April, having spent much of 2017 recuperating from wrist surgery.

The skipper is unlikely to play any part in the All Blacks' practice match against Samoa on Friday as plans for the first Test in a fortnight at Eden Park draw into sharp focus.

But having seen Read's predecessor Richie McCaw have huge impacts on previous series with similarly low-key preparation, Hansen has no concerns.

"Our last skipper used to be able to do it, and this one's got similar mental fortitude and strength of character," Hansen said.

"It's encouraging to know it can be done by people with those attributes. 

"He's in good physical nick, he's fortunate the injury is on the thumb - you don't have to run on your thumb, [just] catch and pass."

Jerome Kaino looks likely to play in the Samoa game, however, after knee surgery.

"JK will definitely be good, because then we don't go into a Test match with both [Kaino and Read] being short of a run," Hansen said.

"Reado has done a lot of hard work, as has JK through Gilly [fitness coach, Nic Gill] and their franchise trainers. They're in good nick. So JK getting a game will be great."

Many of Hansen's other injury concerns were also eased as the team met up on Sunday. Barrett brothers Scott (knee) and Beauden (thigh) are expected to come through the Samoa game, while Brodie Retallick and Ben Smith are recovering well from concussion.

The first Test will come too soon for Dane Coles, however, as he recovers from a head injury, while Aaron Cruden remains unlikely to play in Auckland due to a knee problem.