Aaron Cruden

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.

'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.