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Cruden excited, nervous before Test return

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 9/06/2016 Robert Lowe
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Aaron Cruden is feeling excitement and nerves as he prepares for his first All Blacks Test in more than 18 months.

Cruden will start against Wales in Auckland on Saturday night, getting first go in the No.10 jersey in the post Dan Carter-era.

A serious injury playing for the Chiefs ruled him out of international rugby last year, and he has shown excellent form in his return to Super Rugby this season.

"It's been a long time since my last Test, so obviously I'm extremely excited," he said.

"A few nerves floating around as well, which is only natural, but when I found out that I was going to be starting, I couldn't help but have a smile on my face."

Cruden beat off the challenge of the two other first-fives in the All Blacks squad, Beauden Barrett and Lima Sopoaga.

Barrett, who can also cover fullback, has been included in the reserves.

Despite the individual competition, Cruden said the trio work well in training.

Aaron Cruden will get first go in the No.10 shirt. © Getty Images Aaron Cruden will get first go in the No.10 shirt. "We know we're the drivers of the team and we have to lead the boys around the paddock," he said.

"The three of us are working well together, bouncing ideas off each and trying to get the best out of each other, because ultimately, whether you're in the team or not, you have to contribute to a performance in the weekend."

Cruden, 27, made his Test debut six years ago and has 37 caps.

Coach Steve Hansen said Cruden was the incumbent at the time of his injury and he was also the player the selectors had turned to most when Carter was unavailable.

Hansen also pointed to what Barrett offered when coming on as a substitute.

"We like the way he [Cruden] runs the team and and just as much we like what Beauden gives us off the bench," he said.

"He [Barrett] is world class in what he does. He can cover 10 and just as importantly 15 and he has had massive influences on games when he comes off the bench."

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