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Cruden concentrates on the now

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Lynn McConnell     21 Oct 2016     Getty Images

Cruden, who missed the away leg of the Investec Rugby Championship due to injury, will have a chance off the bench in the final Bledisloe Cup, presented by American Express, Test and final home Test of the season.

Cruden said playing in Manawatu had been refreshing and while he never liked having injuries which could sometimes dent confidence, he was feeling confident he could get out on the field on Saturday and do what was needed for the team whenever he was called upon.

It had been good to get some rugby under his belt in the Mitre 10 Cup and nice to go back and give something back to a union that meant a lot to him and where he got his first opportunity.

"It's huge [the Test], we've been in this position before looking to chase that world record for the 18th consecutive win. We've fallen short against the opposition that we're facing this weekend again a couple of times so it's an exciting challenge and one that we've really embraced and walked towards.

"The season to date has gone pretty well but we know this is a crunch game for us and the boys are pretty excited, running around at training and pretty enthusiastic by it.

"You always treat Tests differently because things are going to be different but for us it's about nailing our roles as individuals and then collectively as a unit so that we can go out there, apply pressure to the Wallabies and then hopefully when we get out opportunities make the most of them."

Second five-eighths Ryan Crotty said he was happy with the way his combination was developing with centre Anton Lienert-Brown. Both he and Malakai Fekitoa ran similar lines and had good off-loading abilities and it was the same when George Moala was out there as well.

"He's [Lienert-Brown] just doing his thing really, really well. His strength in the carry, his ability to off-load and he's running some great lines.

"It's nice being able to run off him at times and try and pick what he's going to do. He's going out there and doing his job really well and I guess that's why there's a perception we're playing as a good combination."

The All Blacks were expecting plenty of pressure to be applied by the Australians through the mid-field.

"Defence is attitude when it really boils down to it. In saying that we've got a pretty good defence coach in Wayne Smith. The little things that he has in place around alignment and line speed and clarity, I think that allows you to defend in a dominant manner. It always boils down to attitude."

While the Australians had delayed naming their side until Friday the All Blacks would not have been surprised if Israel Folau was named in the centres. Crotty said Folau liked to run different lines to other centre candidates so from that perspective it might affect how they defend against him but they had prepared for the prospect he may play at centre.

But whoever was chosen Crotty said 'it shouldn't be anything we haven't prepared for'.