Aaron Cruden

Aaron Cruden says sayonara to NZ rugby

The 31-year-old first-five is heading to Japan to join the Kobe club.

He returned to the Hamilton-based side this season after a couple of years in France, and while he's loved being back, the Chiefs are winless in Super Rugby Aotearoa and have just one match left to send Cruden off on the right note.

Aaron Cruden of Ngāti Tūwharetoa played his 100th game for the Chiefs last weekend in Hamilton and his teammates marked the milestone with an emotional haka.

But the former All Black and New Zealand Māori rep never thought he would make it this far.

Cruden confirms 2020 Super Rugby return with the Chiefs

The 30-year-old Cruden, will return home from France after signing a one-year deal with the Chiefs.

Head Coach Warren Gatland suggested the first five-eighth would slot into the first-choice playmaking role, potentially leaving game-breaking All Black Damian McKenzie to be restored as the team's fullback.

McKenzie shone at five-eighth for the Chiefs in 2018 but a serious early-season knee injury ruined this year's campaign and robbed him of World Cup selection.

Aaron Cruden tipped to return from France

Cruden quit New Zealand rugby in 2017 for a three-year deal with Top 14 club Montpellier worth a reported $3.6 million.

The 30-year-old first five-eighth has signed on again - but only until November - as a 'medical joker' to cover the club until the end of the Rugby World Cup tournament in Japan.

A Planet Rugby report claimed Cruden - a former Chiefs captain - could be a target for the Hurricanes, who have lost All Blacks star Beauden Barrett to the Blues.

Super Rugby: Colin Cooper pours cold water on Chiefs return for Aaron Cruden in 2019

"I don't see that as a forseeable option. He's contracted [to Montpellier], so we'll look at what we've got in our own group, in our region, and around the country," the Chiefs coach said on Tuesday.

Damian McKenzie (knee) and Tiaan Falcon (Achilles) are gone for the season, and Jack Debreczeni is a likely absentee for the coming weeks after suffering his second concussion in a month in last Friday's 23-17 loss to the Lions, leaving the Chiefs seriously short of playmakers ahead of facing the Hurricanes in Wellington on Saturday.

'Father-son' era ends at the Chiefs

The Crusaders 27-13 victory last night puts them into the final where they'll play the Lions in Johanesburg, after they beat the Hurricanes 44-29 this morning.

The Chiefs will now say goodbye to club mainstays Aaron Cruden, Tawera Kerr-Barlow and James Lowe, as well as coach Dave Rennie.

Cruden who has played 50 tests for New Zealand and 85 games for Chiefs says it will be tough saying goodbye to his super rugby franchise.

Cruden couldn't resist French affair

RNZ reports the 28-year-old, who has 47 caps for New Zealand, this morning confirmed he's signed a three-year deal.

Cruden said, "It's with great sadness that this will be my last year playing rugby here in New Zealand, representing Manawatu, the Chiefs and also the All Blacks.

Ben Smith's future 'in the balance' as NZ Rugby could lose two of big three

Now there is a very real possibility two of those three high-profile stars will leave these shores by the end of this year.

It is enough to make the All Blacks coach sit up in his summer deckchair. Should that scenario eventuate, it would again create cause for concern around the vulnerability of elite New Zealand players.

Where previously NZ Rugby have been "quietly confident" of keeping the likes of All Blacks captain Kieran Read, Owen Franks and Beauden Barrett, when it comes to Smith indications are his decision remains very much "in the balance".

NZ Rugby moves to keep Smith, Dagg and Cruden in New Zealand

RNZ reports the union has tabled its final deals for Ben Smith, Israel Dagg and Aaron Cruden, and says it will give them the time they need to make a decision.

The trio's contracts end after the British and Irish Lions tour in June and all three have received lucrative offers to join French clubs.

While conceding New Zealand Rugby would never be able to match the big money bids from overseas, NZR chief executive Steve Tew said they had done all they could to retain the services of the three key backs.

Cruden isn't automatic selection for number ten

Cruden is back in the All Blacks squad after missing all of last year's international campaign, including the World Cup, after suffering a serious knee injury.

Cruden is a part of the 32-man squad named to prepare for the three Test series against Wales next month.