Hansen backs Cruden's gamble

Date published: June 7 2014

All Blacks boss Steve Hansen has backed Aaron Cruden's decision to take a tap penalty in a bid to win Saturday's Test against England.

All Blacks boss Steve Hansen has backed fly-half Aaron Cruden's decision to take a tap penalty in a bid to win Saturday's Test against England.

New Zealand were awarded a kickable penalty in the 76th minute of the Eden Park Test, which they eventually won 20-15 thanks to a Conrad Smith try, but, instead of kicking for goal, Cruden and replacement Beauden Barrett opted to run the ball.

The All Blacks came desperately close to scoring but after reserve back-row Victor Vito took the ball into contact, replacement prop Wyatt Crockett was then held up short of the line.

When asked what he thought of Cruden's decision to tap and go, Hansen said: “Good on you son, especially when Beaudy gave the ball to Victor, I thought he was going to steam-train through, but he got ankle-tapped.

“It was one of those games where someone had to take it by the scruff of the neck. Logic would say Crudes should have kicked the goal but I think England would have enjoyed that.

“He played an option that was there to play. We were very calm in the box and supportive of what he did.”

New Zealand's captain Richie McCaw said he did not give Cruden permission to take the tap, but also supported his team-mate's decision.

“I didn't say anything,” he revealed.

“You've got to back the guys to have a crack. If they're always looking to me they'll never take an opportunity. I was ready to point at the posts but he thought better of it, and it paid off.”

England head coach Stuart Lancaster admitted that Cruden's decision not to take a shot at goal surprised him.

“It was a brave one,” he said.

“We'd sat in the box thinking he'll nail the kick. If those things come off it's the right decision, but it was brave.”

Match-winner Smith conceded that Cruden's boldness also caught him by surprise.

“I thought it was gutsy and then ran like hell to try and keep up with the play,” he explained.

“I do love two young guys, Cruden and Beaudy, having the guts to make a call like that.”