Is Aaron Cruden being punished for missing his flight?
That is a question some in the media are asking after Steve Hansen didn’t even name Aaron Cruden on the bench for this weekends final matchup against the Wallabies, the third encounter of the season.
As this blog has written about much this year, many believe that Beauden Barrett should have been the starter at ten for the All Blacks anyway. But still, Cruden has played well this season, and as some have written already, having Cruden not even make the bench never mind the starting lineup for an All Blacks test would have seemed impossible a month ago.
Impossible then, but not now.
Things haven’t exactly gone from bad to worse for Cruden since his night out on the town.
He has played for Manawatu and remains a firm figure in the All Blacks, but the fact that he isn’t playing at all on Saturday night leaves a few questions without answers.
However, none of those answers really need to be sought at the current time, because the All Blacks lineup for Saturday is strong.
Hansen’s decision cannot really be questioned.
Colin Slade has been in fine form all year, and he doesn’t deserve to miss out on a place on the bench just so Cruden, the number one kicker in the country, can just slot back into his usual starting role now that the punishment period is over.
To some, Cruden may be paying a little extra for his actions a few weeks ago, but both Slade and Barrett have earned their places.
Aaron Cruden will just have to accept his current situation.