Cruden not being punished – Hansen

Date published: October 16 2014

Steve Hansen insists Aaron Cruden is back in contention for New Zealand despite being left out of Saturday’s game in Brisbane.

Steve Hansen insists Aaron Cruden is back in contention for New Zealand despite being left out of Saturday’s game in Brisbane.

The fly-half missed the last two games of the Rugby Championship after missing his flight to Argentina due to a late night out in Auckland, but he was expected to come back in for the Bledisloe Cup clash with Australia.

However Hansen has decided to stick with Beauden Barrett at ten for the game at Suncorp Stadium, with Colin Slade keeping his place on the bench.

Despite that, Hansen maintains that Cruden’s omission is purely a form thing, with the Chiefs pivot potentially in line for a return in the first game of the All Blacks Northern Hemisphere tour against the USA.

”He’s definitely not getting punished,” said Hansen.

”He hasn’t made the 23 simply because Beauden Barrett’s been playing well enough to get another test at first-five.

”Once we made made that decision then it was about what was best for our bench and Sladey covers so many positions for us.”

While New Zealand lost their last game against South Africa, they still come into this match in better shape than Australia.

The Wallabies were beaten in Argentina on the final weekend of the Rugby Championship, while they are also dealing with controversy surrounding Kurtley Beale, who is suspended and under investigation for an incident involving former team manager Di Patston.

However despite a turbulent week, Hansen is not going to underestimate Ewen McKenzie’s side, who are a looking for a first win over the All Blacks since 2011.

”The week the Wallabies have had will make them really, really dangerous,” he said.

”They’ve certainly got their backs against the wall and they’ve got nowhere to go but come out and try and show their fans, their public and themselves that they’re good rugby players.

”We’ve taken no notice about all the media talk. Unless you’re in that environment you don’t know what’s happening. All we know is they’re copping it and that will make them stronger.

”It’s not about having sympathy or not having sympathy. It’s just about understanding that coaching an international side is tough work.

”They’re in a situation at the moment… you don’t want rugby teams anywhere in the world to be under that sort of pressure because it’s not good for rugby.

“We need Australia to be firing on all cylinders from a rugby point of view for the Southern Hemisphere because we know ourselves and South Africa and Australia, when it’s really competitive it’s only making us all better.”