Mature Aaron Cruden confident he can do job

05:47, Jun 22 2012
Tamati Ellison and Ben Smith
Tamati Ellison and Ben Smith discuss backline moves.
Hosea Gear
Hosea Gear during Monday's training at Onehunga High School
All Blacks scrum
The All Blacks engine room packs down scrums on Tuesday.
Richie McCaw
Captain Richie McCaw punts the ball during the All Blacks' Tuesday training.
Julian Savea
Wing Julian Savea holds the tackle pad for the Onehunga High girls team.
Israel Dagg
Israel Dagg teaches passing drills during the ABs surprise visit to Onehunga.
Israel Dagg
A Onehunga High girls 1st XV player steals a hug with Israel Dagg.
Hika Elliot
All Blacks hooker Hika Elliot was popular with the Onehunga girls.
Tony Woodcock
Prop Tony Woodcock holds the tackle pad on Monday.
Israel Dagg and Tamati Ellison
Tamati Ellison helps Israel Dagg off the ground at Fred Taylor Park.
Dan Carter
Dan Carter at All Blacks training on Tuesday.
Aussie McLean and Sam Cane
Assistant coach Aussie McLean chats with All Blacks newbie Sam Cane.
Richie McCaw and Conrad Smith
Captain Richie McCaw and his deputy Conrad Smith at the All Blacks' captain's run at Eden Park.
Dan Carter
Dan Carter gets in some long-range kick attempts at goal at Eden Park.
Victor Vito
Victor Vito flicks a ball over his head during the All Blacks' captain's run.
Sonny Bill Williams
Sonny Bill Williams waits by the players' entrance at Eden Park.
Tony Woodcock
Prop Tony Woodcock takes part in the All Blacks' captain's run.
All Blacks stretching
The All Blacks stretch before their final training walk-through.
SBW and Tamati Ellison
Sonny Bill Williams and Tamati Ellison signs autographs for fans at Pak n Save on Wainoni Rd in Christchurch ahead of the second test.
Sonny Bill Willliams
Sonny Bill Williams on the charge at a training session in Linwood as the All Blacks prepare for the second test in Christchurch.
Sonny Bill Willliams
Hosea Gear and Ma'a Nonu take time out at an All Blacks training session in Linwood ahead of the second test in Christchurch.
Sonny Bill Willliams
Tony Woodcock and Sam Whitelock practice scrummaging at an All Blacks training session in Linwood ahead of the second test in Christchurch.
All Blacks
Adam Thomson and Ben Franks share a laugh at All Blacks training in Christchurch.
Ireland
Ireland's Mike Ross and Sean Cronin doing some scrummaging during training in Auckland.
Ireland
Irish captain Brian O'Driscoll looks on at training.
Ireland
The Irish rugby squad continues training in Auckland after the first test.
Zac Guildford
Wing Zac Guildford leaps for a high ball during the captain's run.
Zac Guildford, Kieran Read and Sonny Bill Williams
Zac Guildford, Kieran Read and Sonny Bill Williams listen to instructions.
Sonny Bill Williams
Sonny Bill Williams passes the ball to a team-mate during the All Blacks' final run.
Dan Carter and Richie McCaw
Dan Carter and All Blacks captain Richie McCaw take part in kicking drills.
Richie McCaw and Piri Weepu
All Blacks captain Richie McCaw and reserve halfback Piri Weepu.
All Blacks training
All Blacks train with the New Zealand Black Sticks in Hamilton. Owen Franks, Cathryn Finlayson and Piri Weepu play touch.
All Blacks training
All Blacks train with the New Zealand Black Sticks in Hamilton. Benjamin Tameifuna shows his dexterity.
All Blacks training
All Blacks train with the New Zealand Black Sticks in Hamilton. Ella Gunson shows Sonny Bill Williams hockey stick basics.
All Blacks training
All Blacks train with the New Zealand Black Sticks in Hamilton. Aaron Smith plays a warm up game with Sam Harrison.
All Blacks
All Blacks (from left) Zac Guildford, Tamati Ellison and Ma'a Nonu are welcomed onto the Melville High School marae.
All Blacks
All Blacks (from left) Ma'a Nonu and Zac Guildford perform the haka with Melville High School students during a visit to the school.
All Blacks
Aaron Cruden talks to the media.
All Blacks
Analyst Alistair Rogers (left) shares a joke with Sam Whitelock and Piri Weepu.
All Blacks
Victor Vito, Liam Messam and Sonny Bill Williams during the All Blacks rugby training session at Beetham Park.
All Blacks
Victor Vito, Liam Messam and Sonny Bill Williams during the All Blacks rugby training session at Beetham Park.
All Blacks
Sonny Bill Williams and Zach Guilford during the All Blacks training session at Beetham Park.
All Blacks
Zach Guilford jumps high against assistant coach Ian Foster during the All Blacks training session at Beetham Park.
All Blacks
Julian Savea jumps high against assistant coach Ian Foster during the All Blacks training session at Beetham Park.
All Blacks
Israel Dagg jumps high against assistant coach Ian Foster during the All Blacks training session at Beetham Park.
All Blacks
Julian Savea, Zach Guilford and Ma'a Nonu during the All Blacks training session at Beetham Park.
All Blacks
All Black coach Steve Hansen, left, and Assistant Coach Ian Foster, right, during the All Blacks training session at Beetham Park.
All Blacks
Ben Tameifuna runs through drills with schoolboys following a training session in Hamilton.
All Blacks
Aaron Cruden runs through drills during a training session in Hamilton.
All Blacks
Sam Cane runs through drills during a training session in Hamilton.
All Blacks
Richie McCaw in action during a training session in Hamilton.
All Blacks
Sam Whitelock goes for a high ball during a training session in Hamilton.
All Blacks
Luke Romano goes for a high ball during a training session in Hamilton.
Richie McCaw and Steve Hansen
Richie McCaw and Steve Hansen talk at the All Blacks captain's run ahead of the third test.
Ma'a Nonu
Ma'a Nonu poses for a photo with some Hamilton fans.
Richie McCaw
Richie McCaw talks to media at the captain's run in Hamilton.

Aaron Cruden will neither share nor shake the nation's nerves when he slips comfortably into Dan Carter's boots tomorrow night.

It's a stark contrast to the mood eight months ago when there was widespread pandemonium at what might happen to a Carter-less All Blacks.

Since then Cruden, and the rugby public, have matured somewhat with a World Cup win and a sparkling season with the Chiefs smoothing furrowed brows.

Aaron Cruden
ICE COOL: All Black Aaron Cruden will fill in for an injured Dan Carter against Ireland. "I think coming in now I'm a lot more relaxed,'' Cruden says.

The secret for both parties, it seems, has been to relax.

And though six changes to the All Blacks side, including the absence of Carter and No8 Kieran Read, will give Ireland hope, they will not see Cruden as a weak link.

"When I first came in I was really nervous," the 23-year-old said yesterday after being named to start at first five-eighth for the third and final test against Ireland.

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"[Then] I changed a lot of my techniques and routines in the way I approached things because I didn't want to not note everything down or miss something and let the team down.

"I think coming in now I'm a lot more relaxed. I'm stuck in my routine that's been working for me for the last couple of years.

"I'm just doing that no matter what team I'm playing for, whether it's Manawatu, the Chiefs, or the All Blacks."

What a contrast to the bloke who made a nervy first test start against Australia in Sydney in 2010, pulled after 61 minutes as the All Blacks scraped home 23-22.

It seems a lifetime ago. Cruden stepped up during the 20-6 World Cup semifinal win over the Wallabies and hasn't looked back.

In fact, his move from the Hurricanes to the Chiefs has taken his game to the point where the shadow of Carter, though still there, is no longer the stuff of nightmares.

Cruden still sees the man he's replaced as the "best in the world", but he's now comfortable with the task of putting Carter under pressure.

That's a big change from the then 21-year-old who was just glad to get a run when he made his test debut against Ireland two years ago with a breezy 27 minutes during the 66-28 win in New Plymouth.

Significantly, Cruden's fourth start in 10 tests will be the first time he has taken the goal-kicking duties into an international.

Notably, he puts his Super Rugby success – he's running at 82 per cent this season – down to less practice.

"In past years I've been almost goal kicking every day and if it wasn't really working I'd try and change something to help my technique and it seemed to make it worse.

"This year I've just relaxed about it and I'm set in my technique and it [the ball] seems to be going over the sticks, which is great."

Barefoot at the team hotel, Cruden cut a laidback figure.

After a stressful Hurricanes campaign in 2011, he's enjoying the calming influence of Chiefs coach and mentor Dave Rennie, who gave him his start with Manawatu.

"For such a young coach Rens has that aura about him. He can put guys at ease; he's constantly talking [to them] about their games and off-field life as well, just getting back to enjoying footy which is great."

Of course Cruden, and his burgeoning combination Chiefs team-mate Sonny Bill Williams, will need front-foot ball to be as effective in the test arena.

Then again, the All Blacks have never lost with Cruden in their squad and he will not be up nights worrying he won't do a decent job.

The Dominion Post