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Cruden not taking Test recall for granted

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 25/05/2016
Aaron Cruden in action for the Chiefs © Getty Images Aaron Cruden in action for the Chiefs

Aaron Cruden isn't assuming anything as he awaits the naming of the All Blacks squad to take on Wales in a three-Test series next month.

In-form first five-eighth Cruden is widely expected to be recalled on Sunday after missing the second half of last year with a serious knee injury, ruling him out of the successful Rugby World Cup defence.

The 27-year-old is crossing his fingers he's done enough to earn a recall 18 months since his last Test.

"The All Blacks is always the ultimate goal and obviously with the injury last year it made me pretty motivated to get back out on the field and play some good rugby," he said.

"Hopefully when the squad's announced I will be in the mix somewhere."

The last of his 37 Tests was the 24-21 win over England at Twickenham in November 2014.

World Cup hero Dan Carter has retired but Cruden still faces stiff competition for the No.10 jersey from Beauden Barrett and Lima Sopoaga to start in the three-Test home series against Wales in June.

He welcomes the challenge.

"Young talent coming through keeps you on your toes and I think it brings the best out of an individual.

"It's good to see guys coming through and vying for spots because that just raises the standard of New Zealand rugby."

Cruden has had few goalkicking opportunities this year, with Damian McKenzie kicking most of the Chiefs' points in Super Rugby.

However, Cruden was given a chance last Saturday and landed four-from-five in the 36-15 home win over the Melbourne Rebels.

"As a kicker you want to be there in those pressure moments delivering the goods and it's been good for me just to get out in the middle and take that responsibility back," he said.

"Obviously Damian is pretty keen to do the job and ultimately you have got to do what's best for the team.

"If I'm able to continue to keep putting them through the posts then I feel I'm contributing."

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