Nat­u­ral leader new Chiefs co-cap­tain

Matamata Chronicle - - Sport -

Chiefs first-five Aaron Cru­den will co-cap­tain the fran­chise this sea­son.

The Su­per Rugby champions an­nounced their 2014 co-cap­tains last week.

In­spi­ra­tional loose for­ward, All Black and last year’s Su­per Rugby fi­nal’s man of the match, Liam Mes­sam will re­main part of the cap­taincy duo and will be joined by fel­low All Black Cru­den.

Chiefs coach Dave Ren­nie said: ‘‘Liam has been huge for us. He has an enor­mous work ethic and has led us to back-to-back cham­pi­onships.

‘‘He is an un­com­pro­mis­ing player and a leader who epit­o­mises Chiefs’ mana.

‘‘ Aaron has been a mas­sive in­flu­ence in our suc­cess to date. His rugby knowl­edge, at­ti­tude and abil­ity to di­rect a game is im­pres­sive. He is greatly re­spected, a nat­u­ral leader and will thrive with this added re­spon­si­bil­ity.’’

Cru­den takes over the co-cap­taincy from in­spi­ra­tional lock Craig Clarke, who is now play­ing in Ire­land.

The 25- year- old Cru­den showed out­stand­ing form for the Chiefs in their back-to­back-win­ning sea­sons, some­thing that was en­dorsed when he was named the Chiefs player of the year two years in a row.

He cap­tained the New Zealand un­der-20s to a world ti­tle win in 2009 and cap­tained Manawatu at the age of 20.

Cru­den is rapt to be made co-cap­tain.

‘‘It is a huge hon­our to co-cap­tain the team with Liam’’ he said.

‘‘We have clear goals that we want to achieve and know it’s im­por­tant that we work harder than ever in or­der to reach those.’’

Mes­sam is the most­capped Chief with 113 matches while Cru­den has played 36 matches for the fran­chise.

The Chiefs played their first pre- sea­son match against the Queens­land Reds in Toowoomba early last Satur­day evening where they nar­rowly lost by 31- 20. On Valen­tines Day they head to Ro­torua to play the Blues at the Ro­torua In­ter­na­tional Sta­dium.

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