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Cruden ready for his big test


Aaron Cruden

Aaron Cruden

Aaron Cruden

Aaron Cruden is ready to step on to the biggest stage of his rugby life this weekend when New Zealand target a World Cup final place at Australia's expense.

Fly-half Cruden, drafted into the All Blacks' World Cup squad less than a fortnight ago as replacement for an injured Dan Carter, will wear the number 10 shirt in Sunday's semi-final at Eden Park.

"It's definitely the biggest game of my life and a huge challenge that I'm really looking forward to," Cruden said.

"Against Australia, it's always an epic battle. Throw a semi-final into the mix and it's huge.

"The more you are involved in the game the more you're able to grow in confidence.

"I suppose if they are going to target me then it will give me more of a chance to be involved in the game and grow my confidence and become more comfortable out there."

All Blacks coach Graham Henry, meanwhile, has no doubt that Cruden is up to the task following his appearance as a substitute against quarter-final opponents Argentina six days ago.

"He is the man this week," Henry said.

"Last week he was a sub, so it is a big change for him, but he's a bright rugby player, he knows the game well. He has captained a lot of teams he's been in, so he directs the traffic well.

"It's the biggest game he's played in, it's the biggest game a lot of them have played in, quite frankly, so I am sure it's challenging. But he seems to be handling it well."

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