Aaron Cruden will be missed at Super Rugby and All Black level.
These days he is the complete number 10. He has a clear strategic rugby brain, excellent vision and a skill-set to execute under pressure.
I remember Aaron when he attended the IRANZ High Performance Players Course. He was an 18-year-old kid from the streets of Palmerston North. His father and uncle had previously played for Manawatu, and were no nonsense, uncompromising players.
Grant Fox was Aaron’s position specific coach and I remember him coming to me before the final match with the voice and expression of conviction, that only Foxy has.
“I think we’ve got a good one here Mex,” he said. Dave Rennie was another staff coach who was impressed with Aaron. A few years later he took him to the Chiefs.
I have had great pleasure watching his steady progress. Now 28, Aaron has matured into a great 10. First five-eight is one of those positions players grow into, and just get better at as they get older. Time has turned him from a determined young man with vision into an outstanding strategic decision maker.
So often Cruden is the man, who with subtle style, changes the game. He did it again on Saturday in Cape Town with a beautifully timed miss pass for the winning try. He was awarded, “player of the match” for his rounded and clever performance. His interview when receiving the award is well worth listening to. This is a great example of a young man with precision and clarity. A player, others trust and follow.
Good luck at Montpellier Aaron, enjoy your French gratuity, you have earned it.
I will not be surprised to see Aaron finish his career wearing the green and white stripes of Manawatu.