Chiefs No 10 Cruden sidelined by broken thumb

Last updated 11:52 07/04/2014
Aaron Cruden
INJURED: Aaron Cruden will be sidelined for up to two months by a broken thumb.

Relevant offers

Super Rugby

Angus Gardiner appointed Crusaders general manager for professional rugby Sam Cane and Seta Tamanivalu ready to go for Chiefs' Super Rugby semifinal Grounded Aaron Smith has no fears of Highlanders rising to challnge Disappointing end to Crusaders season curtails Blackadder's era No New Zealand referees in charge of Super Rugby semis NSW Waratahs opt against Jarryd Hayne Super Rugby offer - report Travel factor a killer when hunting Super Rugby's holy grail Highlanders aim high at altitude after average win over Brumbies Super Rugby form XV: Hurricanes TJ Perenara and Beauden Barrett run the ship Former Wallabies prop Nick Stiles named Queensland Reds coach

The Chiefs will back themselves to cover for Aaron Cruden's absence with a broken thumb over the next six to eight weeks of Super Rugby.

But it's the All Blacks who might be feeling a little more nervous about the playmaker's untimely injury.

The Chiefs announced today that their 25-year-old, 29-test first five-eighths had broken a thumb during Sunday's dramatic 43-43 draw with the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein.

The franchise said the typical recovery time for such an injury was six to eight weeks, which would put Cruden's return between the mid-May and early June.

That will rule the in-form No 10 and Chiefs co-captain out of a big chunk of the Super Rugby competition, with a chance he may not be fit until the final three rounds of the regular season that follow the June test window.

But the Chiefs still have plenty of options in Gareth Anscombe, Andrew Horrell and, at a pinch, Tim Nanai-Williams.

Anscombe, currently playing fullback, is the main contender to step in at No 10 for Saturday's clash against the Melbourne Rebels in Hamilton.

They have also had Hawke's Bay five-eighth Ihaia West around as injury cover, and may look to him again.

Robbie Robinson would have been another capable of filling in at No 10, but the Southlander's ongoing hip problems are likely to remover him from consideration.

The Chiefs pride themselves on the depth of their squad and their ability to cover for injuries through a campaign, and if any franchise can handle the loss of a player as influential as Cruden, it's the back-to-back champions from Hamilton.

It could be that All Blacks coach Steve Hansen will be more concerned by Cruden's absence, especially if it stretches out to the two-month mark.

The All Blacks face England on June 7, 14 and 21 and with Dan Carter already absent as he finishes his extended break, Hansen would have been relying on Cruden's presence to face Stuart Lancaster's side.

If Cruden was not able to prove his fitness ahead of the June series, a lot of onus will fall on Beauden Barrett of the Hurricanes to run the cutter against the tourists.

The Canes playmaker has also been in excellent form this season, but has only started two of his 16 tests and has been used almost exclusively by Hansen as an impact man off the bench.

Should Cruden be ruled out and Barrett step into the starting role, it will be interesting to see who Hansen turns to as backup at five-eighth.

Ad Feedback

Tom Taylor would be next cab off the rank based on last year's test season, but the young Crusader has struggled for top form so far this Super Rugby season.

Colin Slade has emerged as the preferred No 10 option at the Crusaders. Lima Sopoaga has been playing well at first five for the Highlanders, while the Blues' Simon Hickey would be considered too inexperienced for international football at this stage of his career.

The Chiefs are top of the New Zealand conference and fourth overall on 20 points after collecting six points via two high-scoring draws in South Africa.

But they haven't won a match since the March 14 36-20 victory over the Stormers and coach Dave Rennie will be anxious to correct that back at Waikato Stadium on Saturday night. 

- Stuff

Special offers
Opinion poll

Which 2015 NZ Super Rugby team looks best?






Vote Result

Featured Promotions

Sponsored Content