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Cruden shrugs off talk of France switch

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 20/10/2016 Angelo Risso

Aaron Cruden © Anthony Au-Yeung/Getty Images Aaron Cruden All Blacks first-five Aaron Cruden has dismissed suggestions a move to French rugby is imminent.

The 27-year-old Cruden, who lines up for the Chiefs in Super Rugby, is understood to be the subject of a multi-million dollar offer from Top 14 side Montpellier.

The 42-cap Palmerston North native has just a year to run on his contract with New Zealand Rugby and is currently in negotiations with the union.

Cruden began the 2016 Test season as the successor to All Blacks legend Dan Carter in the No.10 jumper, but has since been leapfrogged by the in-form Beauden Barrett.

But he told reporters on Thursday a move to the French south coast was the furthest thing from his mind.

"I've got a few decisions to make, but the time is probably not now to be making those decisions," Cruden said.

"I'm back in this environment now, focussing on what I have to do to contribute to an All Blacks performance."

Saturday's third Bledisloe dead rubber marks a return to Test action for Cruden, who has sat out New Zealand's last three Tests with a groin strain.

He returned to competitive action last week for provincial outfit Manawatu, playing a half as they fell 21-14 to Otago.

Cruden admitted the injury had dented his confidence a little, but felt he was ready for a return to the black jumper.

"It was nice to go back and give back to a union that means a lot to me, and is where I got my first opportunity," Cruden said.

"I'm pretty confident I can get out there and do my job for the team, whenever I'm called upon."

Head coach Steve Hansen said he hadn't spoken in depth with Cruden about the potential move to Europe, but wanted him to stay in New Zealand.

But he understood Cruden would make the decision in his best interests.

"He's a bit part of who we are and what we do, he's in our leadership group and definitely good enough to be a starting Test player," Hansen said.

"We can only lay down our case, and let him make that decision."

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