Rugby World Cup 2011
Smith confident in Cruden ability
October 3, 2011
Aaron Cruden was in spectacular form during the 2011 ITM Cup © Getty Images
New Zealand assistant coach Wayne Smith is confident replacement fly-half Aaron Cruden will make the successful transition from World Cup wilderness to becoming an integral member of the party charged with winning the competition on home soil.
Cruden got the call after Carter tore his groin at the captain's run ahead of Sunday's final World Cup Pool A match against Canada - which New Zealand 79-15 - and will join the squad in Auckland on Monday. And Smith, who will be working with Cruden at the Chiefs next Super Rugby season, felt the young pivot's previous experience with the All Blacks in 2010 would stand him in good stead just a few days out from Sunday's quarter-final with Argentina.
"He knows the basic patterns," Smith said. "Obviously he'll have a bit of homework to do initially. But the key will be to not overload him and keep it pretty simple. "With a player like him you want him to play his natural game, which is an attacking game, so he's coming to the right team because we play plenty of that.
"I can't see there being too much problem. He'll be pretty excited."
Smith is also convinced fly-half Colin Slade has what it takes to handle the pressure of directing the team when it comes to the crunch of knockout rugby. "He's a confident young man. Just watch him playing when he's come through to semis and finals for Canterbury in ITM Cup - he's always played well," Smith said. "He obviously needs time in the saddle but he's going to get that. He's just getting better every game."
Smith believes the self-belief within the squad will help them bounce back from the cruel blow of losing Carter at such a crucial stage in the campaign. "There's a great saying, 'When you walk in the company of those who believe in you, you can achieve anything', and the whole squad believes in each other," he said. "I think that's something that will carry us through. Everybody believes in each other and plays for each other. It's a really good environment."
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