There is so much riding on the 2017 Super Rugby season for Aaron Cruden.
In his final year playing in New Zealand; Cruden is off to a good start in a Chiefs side that has one three kiwi-derbies in as many weeks. The Highlanders, Blues, and Hurricanes provided worthy challenges, most notably in horrendous conditions with torrential rain at Waikato Stadium last Friday night.
“That was certainly the worst conditions I’ve ever experienced in New Zealand. Having said that, I thought both teams really had a crack and with conditions like that you’ve got to be willing to put your sleeves up”, Cruden said.
While the Chiefs got the victory; the last quarter of the game was again an average showing. For two weeks in a row now, the Chiefs have let their opposition come back into the match when they were in a position to really put it away. The bench has been poor thus far, and Cruden puts it down to players trying too hard to make an impact of their own.
“The bench is always trying to add impact and when those guys get on they are a little bit too eager”, Cruden said.
Aaron Cruden’s Anger Over Montpellier Media Reports
Prior to the season beginning, news broke that Cruden had signed with French club Montpellier. The first five will leave New Zealand rugby at the end of the season, and it makes for a special and determined Aaron Cruden who is hungry to go out on a high.
“There is no hiding from the fact that this is my last year in New Zealand so I am just trying to enjoy every moment and if I can do that then it will show in how I play”, Cruden said.
The deal with Montpellier is estimated to be worth NZ$1.2 million. Talks between Cruden, his agent, and the French club were highly reported by the New Zealand media before and after the official confirmation came. During a press conference in February, Cruden vented his frustration at how the media had published details of his incoming salary with Montpellier, asking reporters how they would feel if the same happened to them. There was also a Facebook video posted by Cruden where he vented about the media’s reporting of his decision to leave.
Looking back, Cruden says he wishes he had have dealt with things differently at the time.
“It was just my opinion and I thought I would voice that considering that media sources get to do the same. In saying that, it’s in the past now but I should have said things a bit differently”, Cruden said.
A Satisfied Co-Captain After Strong Beginning
The Chiefs travel to Melbourne to play the Rebels in Round Four. Following that, the Chiefs take a bye. Cruden is the primary option as goal kicker, but he is being chopped at the heels by Damian McKenzie who was given the tee against the Hurricanes. Cruden won back-to-back Super Rugby titles with the Chiefs in 2012 and 2013, and the 28-year old says he is happy with how his side has started the 2017 season.
“The guys here are working pretty hard and the first few weeks of the competition are so crucial to try and set yourself up to launch moving forward”, Cruden said.
Looking ahead to the international window; if Cruden gets selected for the All Blacks three-match series against the British & Irish Lions, he will have to play all three games to reach 50 All Black caps. But first, Cruden will be keen to continue performing well for the Chiefs to try and establish himself as New Zealand’s premier first five.
The Chiefs face the Melbourne Rebels at AAMI Park, on Friday night.
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