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Cruden shoulders more responsibility

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Sportal.co.nz     04 Feb 2014     Getty Images

The Chiefs made the announcement on Tuesday ahead of the side's warm-up game against the Reds in Toowoomba on Saturday.

The former Manawatu first five-eighths has grown in stature since moving to the Chiefs and the coaching regime headed by his former Manawatu and New Zealand Under-20 coach Dave Rennie.

He has stepped up to the point he has been a key contributor to the All Blacks when injury has prevented first choice Dan Carter from taking his place in the Test team.

Under the co-captaincy arrangement, Cruden, who has made 36 appearances for the side, will share the duties with flanker Liam Messam. Over the past two years the role had been shared by Messam and lock Craig Clarke.

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."

As part of those Super Rugby successes, Cruden, 25, had been an outstanding contributor and has leadership credibility having captained Manawatu aged 20, and the IRB Junior World Cup-winning side.

"Aaron has been a massive influence in our success to date," Rennie said. "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 was honoured to take up the role alongside Messam.

"We have clear goals that we want to achieve and know it's important that we work harder that ever in order to reach those," he said.