aron Cruden has played down the possibility of an All Blacks recall after re-signing for the Chiefs for the 2020 Super Rugby season.
The 31-year-old returned to New Zealand after cutting short his contract with Montpellier.Cruden would be eligible to play for the All Blacks in their mid-year Tests against Wales and Scotland and possibly during the Rugby Championship before he heads to Japanese club Kobelco Steelers.
Cruden departed for France after the 2017 British and Irish Lions tour but he isn’t expecting to add to his 50 Test caps.
“I haven’t really thought too much about the All Blacks,” said Cruden as he joined the Chiefs for pre-season training.
“I’ve been removed from that environment for a few seasons and there’s been a lot of changes in that scene.
“Coming back is more about contributing to the Chiefs and we obviously have aspirations of winning a title.”
A World Cup winner in 2011, Cruden would likely be behind incumbents Beauden Barrett, Richie Mo’unga, Josh Ioane and Damian McKenzie in the pecking order for the national side.
Barrett, however, was principally used as a full-back with Mo’unga at fly-half last year by former coach Steve Hansen, while McKenzie’s best position is also at full-back and Cruden could force himself back into the equation.
Ian Foster has succeeded Hansen as head coach of the three-times world champions, who were beaten by England in the World Cup semi-finals in Japan last October and is likely to want to stamp his own mark on the side early on.
Cruden was hampered by injury at Montpellier and the club’s owner Mohed Altred said last year he had been disappointed with the fly-half’s form and injury-plagued seasons.
Despite the Hurricanes needing a fly-half to replace Barrett after his move to the Blues, Cruden said the Chiefs were the only side to reach out to him about a possible return to New Zealand.
“For me, I’m so passionate about the Chiefs, spending time here before I moved away,” said Cruden.
“If I was going to come back, it was hopefully always going to be here in Hamilton.”