Wynne Gray

Wynne Gray is a Herald columnist

First Take: Cruden silences his doubters

Aaron Cruden passes the ball during the third test between the All Blacks and England at Waikato Stadium in Hamilton. Photo / Getty Images
Aaron Cruden passes the ball during the third test between the All Blacks and England at Waikato Stadium in Hamilton. Photo / Getty Images

All Blacks 36
England 13

All those bleating about Aaron Cruden's test credentials need to 'fess up and apologise.

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Like many of his teammates, Cruden had been adequate in Auckland and Dunedin without quite nailing the work he brought to the Super 15 before he broke his thumb.

Read: All Blacks sparkle in win

He had shown touches of his class and timing like the glide and offload to create a try last week and was generally steady in a fitful All Black team. Last night he was a sporting David Copperfield.

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Back on his home track, the All Black five-eighths showed his Hamilton faithful his bag of all-round skills and reminded the rest of the country of his class. New Zealand is fortunate to have such a wonderful player to deputise for Daniel Carter.

That theory might still have a few holes in it.

Carter has begun his return to rugby with several games for his Southbridge club and somehow has to be integrated into the Crusaders who have been well directed this season by Colin Slade.

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The All Blacks next test is about six weeks away against the Wallabies in Sydney.

The All Blacks will be chasing a world record for successive test wins while the Wallabies are on a strong run themselves and no doubt confident they can start the Bledisloe Cup and Rugby Championship with a win at home.

If Cruden continues the form he showed in 45 minutes last night into the tail end of the Super series, how can the selectors ignore him to start in Sydney?

He was riding on the tail of a dominant All Black side but his decisions, vision and skill were breathtaking. He delivered precision flat kickoffs which England have found so awkward to defuse, he passed into space, ran into holes and defended his line strongly.

Four of his goal-kicks succeeded and the other from the touchline hit the post.

Cruden seemed to be involved in each of the All Black tries when he was on the field and was even the recipient of a high tackle which did not damage him but earned England No 8 Billy Vunipola a rough sin bin.

- NZ Herald

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