Aaron Cruden signs new three-year deal with New Zealand
Last Updated: 17/06/14 7:29am
All Blacks fly-half Aaron Cruden has signed a new three-year contract with the New Zealand Rugby Union.
The new contract secures his services for next year’s World Cup and the 2017 British and Irish Lions tour.
Cruden, 25, has proved an able understudy to Dan Carter, playing a pivotal role in Saturday’s second Test victory over England.
"I am thankful for the opportunities I have been given and I want to continue giving my very best to this great game," he said.
Cruden earned the first of his 31 Test caps in 2010 but really came of age a year later, when he became the All Blacks' playmaker at the World Cup after Carter suffered a tournament-ending groin strain.
While an injury forced him off in the final, Cruden did enough in New Zealand's successful campaign for him to be anointed Carter's long-term successor.
All Blacks coach Steve Hansen said Cruden, who survived a bout of testicular cancer in 2008, offered leadership and exciting skills.
"'Crudes' is an outstanding young talent, a great team man and leader in our group," he said. "His contribution to All Blacks rugby and his other teams has been outstanding."
Cruden is also co-captain of the Waikato Chiefs, back-to-back defending champions in the Super 15 competition.
With Carter on a sabbatical, Cruden has faced competition for the number 10 jersey during the current series against England from Wellington Hurricanes fly-half Beauden Barrett.
New Zealand lead the series 2-0 ahead of the third and final Test in Hamilton on Saturday.