Aaron Cruden has big plans in All Black jersey
Aaron Cruden never considered leaving these shores and didn't feel the need to negotiate a sabbatical option into his newly-inked three-year contract.
With the ink still drying on his extension with home province, Manawatu, the defending champion Chiefs and, of course, the All Blacks, Cruden today detailed his level of commitment.
Overseas suitors could have been lining up around the block, but with his spot firmly secure in the national squad, Cruden didn't contemplate cashing in on offshore riches.
"Talking to my agent I told him all along I wanted to stay in New Zealand so he didn't offer me around too much," the 31-test first five-eighth said today as the All Blacks ramped up their efforts to sweep England 3-0 in Hamilton this weekend.
"Playing in the black jersey is the pinnacle and I'd like to do that as long as possible."
Chiefs coach Dave Rennie is off contract with the franchise at the end of 2015 - and Cruden swiftly moved to quell suggestions he may have included an "out-clause" should his long-time mentor move on late next year.
Rennie successfully lured Cruden to Hamilton when he took over the Chiefs two years ago.
"I'd still be comfortable with that. Obviously I'd be talking to Rens and hope he'd re-sign," he said. "You've got to do what's best for you as an individual and coach. If he was to move on I'd still be very comfortable in the Waikato and I'm sure whoever takes his job would do fantastic job."
Sabbaticals, or long leave options, have been granted to Dan Carter, Richie McCaw and Conrad Smith in recent times. Cruden, however, indicated he would instead work closely with his coaches to manage his workload through to 2017, rather than take a six-month break.
"If you have a good relationship with the coach, whoever it may be, they get a good gauge of workload. As a player you need to understand when your body is starting to feel it. If your body is a bit weary and you need a rest you can work it out that way."
The potential of taking on the British & Irish Lions in 2017 was another major drawcard in the 25-year-old's decision to stick around and provide stability for his future plans.
"It's potentially a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for some. You never want to look too far ahead but committing through to 2017 that's definitely a goal."
After a shaky outing at Eden Park, Cruden lifted his game to show glimpses of his vision in the second test victory in Dunedin last week.
While pleased with the way Cruden had improved, All Blacks assistant coach Ian Foster agreed Beauden Barrett was pushing his case for his first start at No. 10.
"There's been lots of discussion," Foster said of the 10 jersey. "They've both had fairly significant game-time in this series. Whoever we end up starting and whoever comes off the bench, they're both likely to play a significant role."