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Cruden's kicking conundrum

Tue, 19 Mar 2013 10:43
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Chiefs flyhalf Aaron Cruden remains in doubt as to whether he will take up the place-kicking duties when the Chiefs play the Highlanders this weekend.

The All Black flyhalf picked up a groin niggle during the Chiefs first week of pre-season training and has not fully recovered enough to take over the goal-kicking responsibility from the in-form Gareth Anscombe.

Cruden told the New Zealand Herald: "I probably wasn't used to the amount of training we were doing and ... the boys were already a long way into their pre-season training. I came back and started kicking then and that's when I started feeling it flare up."

Cruden's decision to not take on the duties has not been an issue for the Chiefs team but it seems it is going to cause a few selection headaches in other positions.

With Robbie Robinson set for a return, there is the option to rest Cruden and give Anscombe a crack at flyhalf.

The former Blues flyhalf has been outstanding at fullback this season and is brimming with confidence, so a shift to a more prominent role in the side might be a smart decision.

Anscombe has been spot-on from the tee so far this season which has meant that Cruden has not been needed by the Chiefs to kick at goal.

"I'd love to have the kicking duties back, but at the moment just with the groin the way it is, it seems to flare up whenever I do an extended kicking session," Cruden mentioned.

Cruden explained the frustration that accompanies a niggle like this: "It's starting to get there. It's probably not the way I wanted to start the season, picking up a few niggles, but I'm just working really hard with the physios here and making sure the body's right."

The Chiefs arrive home after a fairly successful trip to South Africa that saw them beat the Southern Kings but lose to the Stormers. These results have helped the defending champions consolidate their top position in the New Zealand Conference and second position on the overall log.

The Hamilton side will welcome back scrumhalf Brendon Leonard as well as centre Richard Kahui for their clash against the Highlanders at the Waikato Stadium.

"Those guys coming back into the fold has brought really good energy and it's great being back at our Ruakura base here.

"Since we've been away those guys have been put through their paces and it's good to see them hopefully be available for selection," Cruden added.

Looking forward to the game against the Highlanders, Cruden is well aware that the winless Highlanders are due a good performance.

"We know they are due for a good game and hopefully it's not this weekend against us."

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