Aaron Cruden elevated to captaincy role
Chiefs first-five Aaron Cruden will co-captain the franchise this season.
The Super Rugby champions announced their 2014 co-captains today. Inspirational loose forward, All Black and last year's Super Rugby final's man of the match, Liam Messam will remain part of the captaincy duo and will be joined by fellow All Black Cruden.
Chiefs coach Dave Rennie said: "Liam has been huge for us. He has an enormous work ethic and has led us to back-to-back championships. He is an uncompromising player and a leader who epitomises Chiefs' mana.
"Aaron has been a massive influence in our success to date. His rugby knowledge, attitude and ability to direct a game is impressive. He is greatly respected, a natural leader and will thrive with this added responsibility."
Cruden takes over the co-captaincy from inspirational lock Craig Clarke who is now playing in Ireland.
The 25-year-old Cruden showed outstanding form for the Chiefs in their back-to-back-winning seasons, something that was endorsed when he was named the Chiefs player of the year two years in a row.
He captained the New Zealand under-20s to a world title win in 2009 and captained Manawatu at the age of 20.
Cruden is rapt to be made co-captain.
"It is a huge honour to co-captain the team with Liam," he said.
"We have clear goals that we want to achieve and know it's important that we work harder than ever in order to reach those."
Messam is the most-capped Chief with 113 matches while Cruden has played 36 matches for franchise.
The Chiefs will play their first pre-season match against the Queensland Reds in Toowoomba early on Saturday evening before heading to Rotorua on Valentines Day to play the Blues at the Rotorua International Stadium.