NATION

Aaron Cruden So Near, Yet So Far

  Aaron Cruden is on the cusp of leaving New Zealand Rugby and also the Super Rugby Competition for good. This week the out of favour All Black five eighth
15 Oct 2016 11:00
Aaron Cruden So Near, Yet So Far
DUNEDIN, NEW ZEALAND - JUNE 14: Aaron Cruden of the All Blacks looks on during the International Test Match between the New Zealand All Blacks and England at Forsyth Barr Stadium on June 14, 2014 in Dunedin, New Zealand. (Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images)

 

Aaron Cruden is on the cusp of leaving New Zealand Rugby and also the Super Rugby Competition for good. This week the out of favour All Black five eighth got the nod to begin negotiations with French Club Montpellier to join them in the Top 14 French competition and Northern Hemisphere rugby to continue his rugby career.

At the young age of 27 Cruden was once the heir apparent in the All Blacks to Dan Carter but Beauden Barrett’s scintillating form in the No. 10 jersey has transformed the New Zealand attacking line and there is plenty of backup led by Lima Sopoaga, who has superior goal kicking skills, and the rising star Damian McKenzie.

With such a queue and jockeying for the number 10 jersey that once looked like a certain spot for Cruden has suddenly disappeared and put him on the fourth or fifth rung behind players we may not have heard of prior to last year’s Rugby World Cup.

This is the cruel fate of rugby, just when you think you have secured your place in the national team the next week you are out.

On the flip side, Montpellier has reportedly offered a huge bid in excess of $2 million to secure Cruden’s services in the French Top 14. With Cruden off contract from the Chiefs in the near future this deal could possibly be a blessing in disguise.

It must be very hard for players like Aaron Cruden who would love nothing more than to represent their beloved All Blacks but then they also have to consider their financial security and this offer might be too hard to refuse.

Aaron Wiremu Cruden was born on January 8, 1989 in Palmerston North, New Zealand. He attended Palmerston North Boys High school and steadily made his way up the ladder as a stand out rugby player. He captained the PNB High School First XV at the age of 16 years.

Tragedy struck at the age of 18 when Aaron was diagnosed with testicular cancer, an operation was carried out and one of his testicles had to be removed to avoid the cancer spreading. Ever the fighter, Cruden battled his way to fitness and through the early detection of the cancer and treatment has since seen the dreaded disease gone into remission.

In 2008 Cruden was selected to attend the High Performance Players Course at the International Rugby Academy in NZ. This greatly benefitted his overall game and fitness levels needed to perform for 80 minutes on the pitch.

The stint at the High Performance Unit was so beneficial that he captained New Zealand to the 2009 IRB Junior World Championship title in Japan, as well as being named IRB Junior Player of the Year 2009.

At the age of 21, Cruden made his Super Rugby debut for the Hurricanes on January 29, 2010 against the Brumbies.

He made his debut for the All Blacks in the same year in his usual position of first five-eighth (fly half). Cruden made his debut in the 66–28 victory over Ireland in New Zealand, replacing Dan Carter in the 53rd minute

The following year in 2011 he confirmed that he had signed on for the Super Rugby franchise The Chiefs. Cruden said that it was his relationship with new Chiefs coach Dave Rennie that changed his decision to leave the Hurricanes.

Standing at 1.75 metres (5 feet 9 inches) and weighing in at 85 kilogrammes made him a very elusive running fly half, this contributed to Cruden earning 42 caps for the Mighty All Blacks from 2010 till today.

His baptism of fire playing for the run-on Kiwis during the semifinals of the 2011 Rugby World Cup in New Zealand maybe is the highlight of the fleet footed five-eighth career replacing Carter who was injured during the 33-10 win over the Pumas in quarterfinals.

Relatively unknown in a Rugby World Cup, Cruden came in and played a pivotal role in spearheading the Kiwis in the 20-6 win over an overrated  Wallaby side. He not only matched but overshadowed his much-fancied opposite Quade Cooper to win the trans-Tasman battle of the five-eighths.

Having been heir apparent to the famous number 10 jersey and then suddenly finding himself way down the pecking order must be a bitter pill to swallow for Aaron Cruden.

But at the young age of 27 if he can battle cancer he can surely battle for his position and come tops again in the future, if not for his beloved New Zealand, then very likely in the highly competitive French and European club championships.

Edited by Rusiate Mataika

 

 



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