All Blacks captain Kieran Read is confident he'll be able to stay with the side for next month's series with France, despite being ruled out with a back injury.
Read, 32, hasn't played any rugby since picking up a back injury on his side's end of year tour in November, returning to Crusaders training today, having had surgery in the off-season.
Speaking to media today, Read spoke about his role with the All Blacks for this year, even though it will be restricted to off-field duties only.
"I'll definitely be a part of it in some way," he said.
"Already there's been the opportunity to keep the discussions going with Steve (Hansen), the leaders and all of them.
"I'll have to have my ear close to the ground there."
The All Blacks squad for next month's series is named on Sunday.