All Black flyhalf Aaron Cruden received rave reviews after guiding New Zealand to a 33-10 win over Wales at the Millennium Stadium on Saturday.
The Super Rugby-winning Chiefs pivot was called into the starting line-up at the eleventh hour after Dan Carter had pulled up with a leg injury during last Thursday’s training session.
Cruden took the opportunity with both hands, turning in a masterful display in which he exhibited a pinpoint tactical kicking game and slotted all seven of his kicks at goal for a personal haul of 18 points.
Coach Steve Hansen had high praise for the 23-year-old, hailing his performance as "Outstanding."
"I thought he drove us around the park, for the first 60 minutes really well. His kicking game, a couple of years ago he didn't have one and today he was pinpoint, and his goal-kicking, I don't think he missed a kick did he?" Hansen said post match.
"You can't ask for any more than that. Here's a guy who got dropped in there on Thursday. He's got to be proud of how he prepared. You don't get performances like that unless you are preparing to play the whole time,” he added.
Cruden, who has started just eight of his 19 Tests, said he has learned from his role as Carter’s understudy to prepare as though he was starting every Test to ensure he is ready when asked to stand in.
With Carter still under an injury cloud, Cruden could start his third Test in a row when the All Blacks wrap up their season against England at Twickenham on Saturday.
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