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Cruden's revised contract situation at Montpellier opens door to Super Rugby return

By Liam Heagney
Aaron Cruden gets tackled by Johnny Sexton and Tadhg Furlong during the 2017 All Blacks-Lions series in New Zealand (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)

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Aaron Cruden could be angling for a switch back to Super Rugby following confirmation in France regarding his contract for the new 2019/20 season. 


Montpellier, the French club the former All Black has been with since 2017 on a €700,000 a year deal, have announced that the playmaker will continue his stint at the club, but only as a World Cup cover medical joker until November 18. 

It is the same type of scenario the Vern Cotter-coached club has reached with Jannie du Plessis, the former Springbok agreeing to provide cover until the World Cup is over and the international players missing from Montpellier are back in France.

“Aaron Cruden, a New Zealand international who joined the club in 2017, will stay in Montpellier during the World Cup season,” said a club statement. 

“Jannie du Plessis, an international Springbok at the club since 2015, will also be hired as a World Cup joker. In parallel, he will continue to carry out his missions within the training centre.”

There has already been speculation this past week that Cruden could be a target for the Hurricanes now that Beauden Barrett has decided to join the Blues in Auckland, but confirmation of his latest contract arrangement in France would suit any potential return to Super Rugby. 


Cruden’s future has been much speculated on in 2019, with Bath and particular Dave Rennie’s Glasgow linked to the New Zealander. None of that speculation came to fruition, leaving Cruden to round off a frustrating, injury-hit season in Montpellier where the last of his 13 starts in a 27-game league season came in the play-off defeat to Lyon.  

When interviewed last April, Cruden was at a loss as to why his availability was regularly being curtailed by soft tissue injuries. “I don’t really have an explanation (for the injuries).

“With muscle injuries, it’s always hard to pin down the problem. Maybe I tried to come back too fast at times. But I’m not sure about that and I don’t want to point at anyone, to say that it comes from this or that.

“Unfortunately, it happened. Now I trying to keep the ideas clear, to stay focused on how I can come back to contribute to the team,” he said, adding he hasn’t radically altered his warm-up routines.


“I didn’t change much, no. I like to think I have always been rather attentive and diligent in the approach of my physical preparation. So it has been about working hard with the medical staff, doctors, physiotherapists to put together a specific plan that would allow me to return as quickly as possible while being careful not to push too far.

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“Everyone is working hard and I know everyone is disappointed that they have not seen me more often this year. But we all go through difficult things and we learn every day. I have suffered some injuries during my career, a few fractures, a ligament of a knee that kept me off the ground for several months, but never as many regular muscle injuries as this season.

“It’s frustrating but I still believe in my body and in my ability to find the game to contribute at the highest level. I just have to make sure to take all possible steps in my recovery process, to take good care of my body. If I do that, I have good hope for the end of the season.

“I would not be human if I didn’t have doubts. When you arrive somewhere with big expectations, you want to make your contribution. And when you can’t do it for various reasons, such as injuries, it can become frustrating. I try to stay positive, keep a cool head, keep the end goal in sight. For me, it’s playing quality rugby and having fun. A professional career does not last forever and it’s necessary to enjoy it.”

WATCH: The insightful RugbyPass documentary with Nemani Nadolo, Cruden’s Fijian team-mate at Montpellier

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