Ian Foster: Aaron Cruden's future could be decided within a week

A decision on Aaron Cruden's future with the All Blacks could be become a lot clearer within a week.

The 27-year-old first-five is being hunted by French Top 14 club Montpellier, with reports suggesting a contract offer of around $1.25m plus bonuses.

Cruden's contract with New Zealand Rugby finishes at the end of next year, but the emergence of Beauden Barrett as a world-class No 10 was seen as a possible reason for Cruden to move.

The Chiefs' captain took over the jersey from Dan Carter after last year's World Cup (he also started at first five-eighths a number of times when Carter was injured), however, the rapid rise of Barrett and form of Lima Sopoaga has many suggesting Cruden might be tempted by a move offshore.

All Blacks assistant coach Ian Foster insists Cruden remains an integral part of their plans.

"He's led this team, he's a leader, and he's proven he's a quality starter and he's a massive contributor behind the scenes," Foster told Newstalk ZB's Tony Veitch. "We don't want to lose smart, intelligent, decision makers who can run your game. So we're very keen for him to stay."

Foster admits they haven't been able to sit down with Cruden and discuss plans fully over the past three weeks - Cruden didn't travel to Argentina and South Africa because of a groin injury.

However, Foster said they would sit down with Cruden after next weekend's final Bledisloe test in Auckland.

"We get this all the time, when clubs are targeting players," Foster said. "When I did speak to Aaron, my conversation lasted about a minute which was, 'We love you, we want you, we believe you've already done a lot for this All Black team and we want to keep you. You have a big part to play'.

"He's got a decision to make. It's a big one and it's a tough one."

Cruden returned to action for Manawatu on Friday night in a 21-14 defeat to Otago.

- NZ Herald

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