Cruden seeks counsel from Carter
Aaron Cruden has admitted he went to injured first choice New Zealand fly-half Dan Carter for advice about how to deal with the pressure of playing in a world cup semi-final before the All Blacks showdown with Australia last weekend.
Cruden was thrust into the limelight after injuries to Carter and his stand-in Colin Slade in the space of a week that ruled them out of the tournament.
The 22-year-old is now charged with ending the All Blacks 24-year search for a second World Cup crown against France on Sunday, and Cruden revealed that he will also seek out the help of the leading points scorer in world rugby before the showdown against Les Blues.
“Dan’s always floating around the hotel and he’s been really positive, always smiling and laughing with the boys,” Cruden said. “He sent me a text before the semi-final wishing me all the best.
“I’ll definitely be going to him and just asking him what he thinks about certain things this week and pick his brains so I can be as well prepared as I can come kick-off time on Sunday.”
Carter has now returned to Auckland following surgery on the groin injury he suffered during training ahead of the All Blacks Quarter Final against Argentina, and is expected to be present at the city’s Eden Park stadium for the final.
The transformation from left at home for the World Cup to starting the final has left Cruden dreaming of a fairy tale ending to Sunday’s game, something few free bets had backed before the tournament.
“I think every kid did and if they say they didn’t then they’re lying,” he said. “You’re always out there practising, maybe kicking the winning goal or scoring the winning try.
“It’s something that I’ve dreamt of since I was a little fellow and something I’m very excited about. “Those are just things you look back on now and think ‘wow, I have the opportunity to play in a Rugby World Cup final’, and it’s going to be pretty special.
“I’m just humbled and blessed to be back in this squad and given this opportunity.” He added.
New Zealand head coach Graham Henry has been impressed with the form of Cruden since he came into the squad, while assistant coach Wayne Smith described him as a “pretty special kid” for making it back into international rugby having been dropped for the All Blacks northern hemisphere tour last year and overcoming testicular cancer.
The All Blacks are the clear free bet favourites for the game against France after Marc Lievremont’s scraped to victory against 14-man Wales in the semi’s.
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