Rugby World Cup 2019: Could Aaron Cruden be All Blacks bolter?

With Damian McKenzie's season-ending injury testing their first-five depth, the All Blacks may have to look offshore for a third-string pivot for the Rugby World Cup.

While Beauden Barrett and Richie Mo'unga are essentially locks for the first two spots, the third now seems an area of genuine concern for Steve Hansen and co.

Could that mean an SOS to bring home Aaron Cruden from France? All Blacks great Sir John Kirwan believes that's precisely where the answer lies.

Kirwan told Sky Sport's The Breakdown that selectors should consider an attempt to bring the 50-test international back to help defend the World Cup in Japan.

The 30-year-old has fallen out of favour with his Montpellier club, after a run of injuries saw him sidelined for more than half of the struggling club's Top 14 fixtures last season.

"I think Cruden's the best," Kirwan said. "His club doesn't like him, but he's got to come home now.

"He's got to sign with New Zealand Rugby, come home for next year and start playing."

In late 2017, Cruden signed a four-year deal worth NZ$3.6 million with Montpellier, which expires in 2020.

He's also been linked to a move to the Glasgow Warriors, where he'd reunite with former Chiefs coach Dave Rennie.

The former Chiefs playmaker was a member of the All Blacks team that won the World Cup in New Zealand in 2011, starting the final against France, until a knee injury forced him from the field and set the stage for Stephen Donald's unlikely heroics.

Other options to replace McKenzie include the Crusaders' Brett Cameron, Blues' Otere Black and brother Marty McKenzie.


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