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"It's pretty special, isn't it, that one player has gone who has been there for a long time and you have got three

Wales, desperate to convince themselves the All Blacks are vulnerable, will be a little shattered to learn the queue to replace Daniel Carter is three-deep and playing such good football that the coaching group is having trouble separating them.

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Aaron Cruden, Beauden Barrett and Lima Sopoaga have each made a genuine case to start at Eden Park. Cruden is the most likely to be named in the All Blacks' No 10 jersey for the first test, given his experience and proven ability as a tactical general.


Cruden, on balance, has been that little bit more influential in Super Rugby. In terms of skills portfolios, there's not much to separate the three contenders. They all run well, distribute accurately and have a diverse range to their kicking games.

But Cruden brings that composure and strong decision-making that test victories are built on and enables him to bring out more from the team.

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They trust all three players to deliver what they need but it was Cruden who was putting the most pressure on Carter between 2012 and 2014 before succumbing to a serious knee injury early last year.


"It's pretty special, isn't it, that one player has gone who has been there for a long time and you have got three players who have all been there before and all three are playing well," said All Blacks assistant coach Ian Foster."We have been trying to harness that. We still want them to work together from a collective sense and I am really pleased they are doing that so, whoever does get the nod in whichever test it is, we want all three working hard together because we are going to have to grow that group because we know we are going to need all three at some point.







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