Cruden 'deeply embarrassed'

Aaron Cruden (Getty Images)
Aaron Cruden (Getty Images)
Wellington - Flyhalf Aaron Cruden has expressed his "embarrassment" at being dropped from the All Black squad after he missed the team's flight to Argentina on Sunday following a drinking session.

Cruden missed the assembly time for the All Blacks' departure and was dropped by coach Steve Hansen for the team's Rugby Championship tour matches against the Pumas and South Africa.

He was also reprimanded by Hansen, who will likely pick Beauden Barrett to replace the 25-year-old for Saturday's clash against Argentina in La Plata and the following week's match against the Springboks.

"I am deeply embarrassed by this lack of judgement and have never been more disappointed in myself," Cruden said in a statement released by the New Zealand Rugby Union on Monday.

"I carry the burden of shame and disappointment and I am deeply apologetic to my team, to my family, and also the New Zealand public.

"I have no excuses. I accept full responsibility for my actions and the penalty of missing the next two games, and I will work with New Zealand Rugby to undertake any other disciplinary action to work through this situation."

Though the team initially said Cruden had been left behind because of the late-night excursion, Hansen said in Argentina that he had missed the flight.

"We didn't have a curfew. He was out drinking and he didn't get there in time," Hansen earlier told New Zealand media in Argentina.

"It's obviously disappointing and out of character for (Aaron). He's extremely disappointed in himself. He understands there has to be a consequence for his actions."

"Once we get this out of the way then he will be coming back into the group when we go to Brisbane.

"It's not what we, or he, stands for. We all make mistakes.

"The team is well aware that when we don't get it right there is a consequence and he's paid the price for that."

The All Blacks play Australia in Brisbane on October 18 after the Rugby Championship wraps up.

Tom Taylor has replaced Cruden in the All Blacks squad for their matches against the Pumas in La Plata and Springboks in Johannesburg. Star flyhalf Dan Carter, who has been recovering from a broken leg sustained during the Super Rugby final, is being slowly nurtured back to fitness.

Cruden had started in six out of seven of the All Blacks' Tests this season, with Barrett beginning against the Pumas in Napier earlier this month.

Colin Slade is likely to come off the bench if Barrett starts at La Plata.

Carter will play provincial rugby this weekend, though is not expected to be available for the All Blacks until the third and final Bledisloe Cup Test against Australia in Brisbane.

New Zealand lead the Rugby Championship table on 16 points and end their campaign against the Springboks at Ellis Park on October 4.
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