All Blacks first five-eighths Aaron Cruden will join loose forward Liam Messam as co-captains of the Chiefs for their 2014 Super Rugby campaign.

It will be the third season in a row the Chiefs have opted for co-captions with Messam and Craig Clarke, who left to play club rugby Ireland in the offseason, sharing the leadership role previously.

Cruden, 25, captained the New Zealand Under-20s to a world title in 2009 and captained Manawatu at the age of 20. Messam is the highest capped Chief with 113 matches and Cruden has played 36 matches for the two-time defending champions.

"Liam has been huge for us,'' Chiefs coach Dave Rennie said. "He has an enormous work ethic and has led us to back-to-back championships. He is an uncompromising player and a leader who epitomizes Chiefs mana.


"Aaron has been a massive influence in our success to date. His rugby knowledge, attitude and ability to direct a game is impressive. He is greatly respected, a natural leader and will thrive with this added responsibility.''

Cruden is rapt to be awarded the role of co-captain.

"It is a huge honour to co-captain the team with Liam,'' he said. "We have clear goals that we want to achieve and know it's important that we work harder than ever in order to reach those.''

The Chiefs will play their first pre-season match against the Reds in Toowoomba on Saturday before heading to Rotorua on Valentines Day to play the Blues at Rotorua.