Aaron Cruden Keeps Rugby Return Simple

Aaron Cruden is under the spotlight as he returns to the rugby field but with just a week to go until Super Rugby begins, the 27-year old All Black will just be hopeful to get through a full season.

It has been ten long months since Aaron Cruden last played a game of rugby.

Since rupturing the ACL in his left knee, the 27-year old has watched the All Blacks win their second successive Rugby World Cup, witnessed the emergence of Lima Sopoaga down in Highlander territory, and has seen close friend Dave Rennie usher in an almost brand-new Chiefs side full of uncapped youth for the 2016 Super Rugby season.

Cruden did all this from the couch in his home, a painful experience for one of New Zealand’s most high-profile sportsmen.

When the injury occurred, there was a three-way battle between Cruden, Daniel Carter, and Beauden Barrett for the first-five role in the All Blacks.

Then Lima Sopoaga came along, this put even more pressure on Cruden who already had enough to deal with competing against Beauden Barrett for All Black coach Steve Hansen’s backing post Daniel Carter.

Both Sopoaga and Barrett come into 2016 with considerable match time under their belts, and on that front, Cruden is well behind.

But despite his lack of playtime, Cruden is still very much the leader of this young Chiefs backline, and that reality cannot be questioned. It is more a question of his body being ready for rugby again, and after 10-months on the sidelines with serious rehab, Cruden is likely in the best shape he’s ever been.

In fact, Cruden will once again co-captain the Chiefs, this time alongside flanker and regular All Black Sam Cane.

Coach Dave Rennie says that Cruden is very vocal, passionate member of the side who truly cares about Chiefs rugby and is not afraid to pull players up on the field during training and in the middle of matches.

It seems almost certain that up n comer Damian McKenzie will slot into fullback for as long as Cruden is fit, but with the hefty travel schedule in Super Rugby this season and a big series against Wales in the international window, Cruden will be managed closely and rested where possible.

Cruden has an impressive record for the Chiefs, including multiple Super Rugby titles and exactly 550 points.

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