Patrick McKendry

Patrick McKendry is a rugby writer for the Herald.

All Blacks: Cruden hopes for warmer reception at home ground

Being left out in the cold was given new meaning to the All Blacks reserves in Christchurch on Saturday night.

On what has been described as the chilliest June night in the city for 25 years, flanker Sam Cane was given the first run off the bench after halftime to make his test debut, but the others - Ben Franks, Ali Williams, Piri Weepu, and Ben Smith, had to wait a little longer. And as for hooker Hika Elliot and first-five Aaron Cruden, they didn't even make it on to the pitch.

Cruden, who watched as Dan Carter took a starring role when sealing the 22-19 victory over Ireland with a last-minute drop goal, said he was quite happy to take a supporting role.

Asked about being left on the bench, he said: "It just depends on how the game's going. It was pretty tight last week, the Irish really came to play. It probably would have been a bit of a dampener if they had had to make changes and Dezzy [Carter] was going so well and was able to slot that drop goal right at the end which was crucial.

"The body was warm but the feet were pretty cold. It was a chilly night down there. A lot of the boys who were actually playing put the thermals on at halftime and I think that shows how cold it really was."

Asked about making the switch from reserves bench to field of play in such extreme temperatures, he said: "When you're on the bench you're warming up constantly so if you're called upon you're definitely going to be ready. When you get out on the field the adrenaline kicks in so you're generally pretty sweet."

Cruden will relish the chance to get on to Waikato Stadium in the third test against Ireland. The 23-year-old feels right at home there having made the move to the Chiefs from the Hurricanes after last season and his form has been superb under coaches Dave Rennie, Wayne Smith and Tom Coventry.

Home favourite Carter sported several facial abrasions after the physical match at AMI Stadium and Cruden would be more than happy to ease his workload. Either way, the reception is likely to be far warmer than last week.

- APNZ

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