Mature Aaron Cruden confident he can do job

Last updated 05:00 22/06/2012
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.

Related Links

Cruden raring to play pivotal role for All Blacks Cruden clear favourite to fill Carter's boots Injured Carter out of All Blacks for third test ABs changes were always coming says Hansen Waikato Stadium sold out for third test All Blacks test preparations

Relevant offers

All Blacks

Messam takes no pleasure in 'brothers' bad luck Steve Hansen - Performance on us, not the ref Referee says 'negative' All Blacks frustrate officials French whistler holds key - to scrum and match Rugby must front up to a refereeing challenge Ryan Crotty gets first start for the All Blacks Johnstone: Time for All Blacks to break shackles Major second test injury dilemma for All Blacks All Blacks backs to the wall, says Aaron Cruden Victor Vito on wanted list, but his future unclear

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.

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.

"[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.

Ad Feedback

"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

Special offers
Opinion poll

What result are you tipping for this week's Bledisloe battle in Auckland?

The All Blacks will win easily. I'm going 13 plus.

It will be a close one but the ABs should do it 12 and under.

After the Sydney effort, it's got to be the Wallabies 12 and under.

The visitors are going to smash the All Blacks.

Vote Result

Featured Promotions

Sponsored Content