WELLINGTON, June 17 (Reuters) - Aaron Cruden, heir apparent to long-serving flyhalf Dan Carter, has committed to the New Zealand Rugby Union and his Super Rugby team, Waikato Chiefs, through to 2017.
The 25-year-old, who played his 31st test against England on Saturday, signed deals for another three years, making himself available for the All Blacks for next year’s World Cup in England and the British and Irish Lions tour in 2017.
“It’s great for me and my family that I have been able to secure my rugby future through to 2017 and I‘m delighted to be staying in New Zealand,” said Cruden.
New Zealand coach Steve Hansen said his team’s selectors were “excited” that Cruden had re-signed.
“‘Crudes’ is an outstanding young talent and a great team man and leader in our group,” he said.
“His contribution to All Blacks rugby and his other teams has been outstanding.”
In the absence of talismanic playmaker Carter, who has taken a six-month sabbatical from the game, Cruden has started at flyhalf for the All Blacks in the past two test wins against England to seal the three-match series 2-0.
Carter, 32, made his return to the field in a lower-level club game on Saturday and should be available for the annual southern hemisphere Rugby Championship with Australia, South Africa and Argentina starting in August.
The All Blacks will bid to sweep the England series in the final match in Hamilton on Saturday.
Writing by Ian Ransom; Editing by Greg Stutchbury