Auckland - New
Zealand will do all they can to keep Aaron Cruden with the All Blacks,
coach Steve Hansen revealed on Thursday as the flyhalf weighs up a
lucrative offer to join French club Montpellier.
Reports from France indicate the 27-year-old, who is off contract
with New Zealand Rugby next year, has been offered a deal worth more
than a million dollars.
Cruden, named on the bench for Saturday's Test in Auckland against
Australia after an injury lay-off, has refused to discuss the issue
other than confirm he has options to consider.
"I've got a few decisions to make but the time is probably not right
now to be making those decisions after an injury lay-off," he said.
"My focus is on the game this weekend and trying to make sure I nail
my role when I get back on the field. I haven't put too much thought
into (the offer)."
However, Hansen said they have made it clear to the 42-Test pivot that New Zealand Rugby do not want to lose him.
"He knows we want him to stay and that discussion will probably
happen while we're away," Hansen said with the All Blacks to leave soon
on a northern hemisphere tour.
"He's a big part of where we are and what we do. He's in our
leadership group and he's definitely a good enough player to be a strong
Test player so we won't want to lose him." Player retention has been a problem for New Zealand Rugby, which
fights big money offers from off-shore by stating players must play in
New Zealand to qualify for All Blacks selection.Cruden was the understudy to Dan Carter for several seasons before
taking over as the All Blacks' first choice fly-half this year when
Carter retired from international rugby to join Racing 92 in France.However, his groin injury has seen him slip behind Beauden Barrett in the All Blacks pecking order.The French reports indicate Cruden is being considered as a possible
replacement for Demetri Catrakilis when New Zealander Vern Cotter takes
over as Montpellier coach next season.